One of New York’s finest finally received the recognition he so long deserved.
The corner of Southern Boulevard and Intervale Avenue will now carry the name of fallen NYPD police officer Thomas Ruotolo for generations to come.
That section of the boulevard, which sits next to the current 41st Precinct police house was shut down for the parade of NYPD honor guard, Chief of Department Terrence Monahan, along with Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Jr. and family and friends of police officer Ruotolo, whom all endured the cold weather to pay the warmest of respects.
The street was co-named on Valentine’s Day, marking the 35th anniversary of police officer Rutolo’s brutal killing at a gas station on Bruckner Boulevard and East 149th Street in 1984.
The tragic incident occurred when 30-year-old Ruotolo and his partner, on patrol, heard the report of a stolen moped over their police radio.
When the duo stopped at the corner of the notorious gas station, the officers observed the suspect, later identified as George Agosto filling the moped with fuel.
Police officer Ruotolo pulled his patrol car up behind Agosto as Rutuolo and his partner exited the squad car.
As they approached, Agosto opened fire at the officers from a snub nose revolver he had been caring.
Upon discharge, police officer Ruotolo was fatally struck in the head, dying immediately at the spot where he fell.
His partner returned fire, but was also wounded by the assailant. An off-duty officer who was using a pay phone at the gas station, and witnessed the incident, opened fire on the suspect, but he too was shot and wounded.
The NYPD conducted an extensive manhunt to catch Agosto, searching roofs and basements all over the Bronx.
Once captured, Ruotolo’s killer was found guilty and sentenced to 40 years to life in prison. He will not be eligible for parole until 2024.
The incident is considered one of the most infamous cop killings in all of America, let alone New York and the Bronx.
The event inspired a retired NYPD police officer ,who now resides in Florida, to create a re-enactment of the shooting in efforts to raise awareness of the legitimate danger the ‘Men in Blue’ face every day, even on the simplest of patrols.
“Thirty five years ago the community and police officers of Fort Apache and 41st Precinct vowed to never forget his sacrifice,” Said Salamanca after honoring Rutuolo’s family. “I was only three years old then, but today I am proud to have been part of that vow,” the councilman added.
Even all these years later, Ruotolo is remembered so fondly by the NYPD as well.
An online memorial for the police officer is still receiving condolences for the NYPD member as of press time.
“Tommy was a great guy to work with when I was a rookie in Fort Apache! I was deeply saddened to hear of his passing that day. He’ll always remain alive in my heart!” posted retired NYPD detective Willie Grimball.
Even police from Onatario, CA have left condlances on the page, as well as many others.
Melody Velez-Ortega, a famed Bronx baker even decorated a cake of Rutuolo’s uniform for the renaming ceremony and current 41st Precinct staff.
From all of us at the Bronx Times, we remember the sacrifice police officer Rutuolo and all those that his fellow police officers make daily.