Deputy commissioner honors late brother by awarding grants

(l-r) Byrne, awardees Wimbush, Flores and Rivera and Larry Nikunen, assistant chief of borough patrol.
Photo courtesy of Kinhang Tong (NYPD)

On Monday, June 22, NYPD deputy commissioner of legal matters Larry Byrne awarded grants to three students as a part of the Edward R. Byrne Scholarship Awards, which took place just after M.S. 101’s graduation at Lehman High School.

The grants were presented to graduating students Thias Flores, Joshua Rivera and Cashonee Wimbush. They each received $250 towards their high school education.

Their winning essays reflected on the tragedy of Larry’s brother Edward Byrne, a police officer who was murdered while on the job in Queens on February, 26, 1988.

At around 3:30 a.m. that morning, Byrne was sitting in his marked patrol car in front of a house that had repeatedly called the NYPD to report illegal activities taking place on the same street.

Byrne, who was assigned to this location alone, was sitting in his car when another car pulled up alongside him.

Two men in the car exited – one of the men broke the passenger side window of the police cruiser while the second man crept up on the driver’s side and shot Byrne five times in the head with a .38 caliber pistol, while two other men acted as lookouts.

Shortly after, Byrne was pronounced dead at a local hospital, just five days after his 22nd birthday.

In dedication and honor of the fallen police officer, 91st Avenue in Queens was renamed P.O. Edward R. Byrne Avenue and P.O. Edward Byrne Park was dedicated, both in 1995.

The next year, the city changed the name of M.S. 101 from the Henry Bruckner Junior High School to the Edward R. Byrne Middle School – where the student body remains knowledgeable of the events that occurred that sad day in NYC history.

Despite the tragic death of his brother over 25 years ago, Larry says that these to-be graduates at M.S. 101 benefit from writing these essays.

“The winners presented us with three excellent essays and they each deserved to be awarded with this grant,” said Larry, who started the annual scholarship awards program when the the school was renamed in his brother’s honor.

“These essays may reflect the sad, unfortunate history of my brother’s passing, but it also teaches students about the dangerous history in New York City, from violence to drug use and other unlawful and unfortunate scenarios,” he added.

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 742–3384. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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