Two CUNY-alum NYPD officers die in shooting

Tahreem Ashraf

CUNY alumni and New York City Police Department officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora died in the line of duty during a domestic dispute encounter in Harlem on Jan. 21.

“Both men reflected the very best of what CUNY has to offer and spent their college years thinking about ways to build bridges between police and the neighborhoods they serve,” CUNY stated in an Instagram post.

Rivera, Mora and a third rookie officer acted in response to a 911 call by a woman who said she was arguing with her son, 47-year-old Lashawn McNeil. The presence of weapons was not mentioned, according to Chief of Detectives James Essig.

Upon arrival at the apartment, the third officer stayed with the mother and a different son while Rivera and Mora walked down a hallway. When a bedroom door swung open, the two officers were shot by McNeil, police said.

McNeil was shot by the third officer as he tried to escape. Rivera, Mora and McNeil were taken to Harlem Hospital, where they all died.

“It is our city against the killers,” Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference. “This was just not an attack on three brave officers. This was an attack on the city of New York. It is an attack on the children and families of this city.”

Born to a Dominican immigrant family, Rivera, 22, was appointed as a police officer to Harlem’s 32nd Precinct in Nov. 2021. He fulfilled his childhood dream of making a difference as a NYPD officer during the surge of crime that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Coming from an immigrant family, I will be the first to say that I am a member of the NYPD, the greatest police force in the world,” Rivera wrote in a short essay titled “Why I Became a Police Officer.” “Growing up in New York City, I realized how impactful my role as a police officer would go in this chaotic city of about 10 million people.”

Rivera attended Borough of Manhattan Community College and Lehman College, before joining the NYPD in 2020.

“Our thoughts are with the family of NYPD Officer Jason Rivera, who lost his life in the line of duty,” CUNY tweeted. “After attending @bmcc_cuny and @LehmanCollege, he dedicated his life to public service becoming the first member of his family to be a police officer.”

Mora, 27, joined NYPD in October 2018. He was shot in the head and was taken off life support four days after the shooting. He donated his heart, liver, pancreas and both kidneys before his death.

“Wilbert is 3 times a hero,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell wrote in a tweet. “For choosing a life of service. For sacrificing his life to protect others. For giving life even in death through organ donation. Our heads are bowed & our hearts are heavy.”

Mora graduated from John Jay College and LaGuardia Community College.

“I am in pain, I am hurting,” Mora’s family friend Santo Gurrrero told CBS2 while describing him as “very humble, loved by the whole world over here.”

A funeral was held for Rivera at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Jan. 28.

“These two fine men watered the tree of safety and allowed us to sit under this shade from the hot sun of violence,” Adams said about the officers in his eulogy. “You play a vital role in the prosperity of this city.”

Adams also released a “blueprint to end gun violence” in response to the surge in the crime rate.

“We are going to find these guns and we are going to find those who carry them and use them,” Adams said. “We are committed to ending this violence. My heart goes out to these families who are experiencing such a traumatic experience.”