By Holly Matkin and Sandy Malone
New York, NY – New York Police Department (NYPD) Officer Wilbert Mora died on Tuesday after being shot while responding to a domestic dispute between a mother and son in Harlem several days earlier.
The incident began shortly after 5 p.m. on Jan. 21, when the NYPD received a report of a domestic disturbance at 119 West 135th Street, the New York Post reported.
Officer Mora, 27, responded to the scene along with fellow NYPD Officer Jason Rivera, 22, and Officer Sumit Sulan, 27.
NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said the mother and one of her sons met the officers in the front of the apartment when they arrived, NBC News reported.
They explained that the mother and her other son – later identified as 47-year-old Lashawn McNeil – had had an argument about her diet, the New York Daily News reported.
McNeil was vegan and his mother was not.
He wouldn’t come out of the back bedroom when his mother called him, the New York Daily News reported.
So, two officers went down the hallway to talk to him, NBC News reported.
Neither the mother nor her other son mentioned to police that McNeil might have a weapon, WABC reported.
“As our first officer approached the bedroom, the door swings open and numerous shots are fired, striking both officers,” Chief Essig told reporters during a press conference at Harlem Hospital.
McNeil stepped over Officer Rivera in order to shoot Officer Mora, the New York Daily News reported.
Chief Essig said Officer Sulan, a probationary officer with less than a year on the department, returned fire at the suspect and shot the gunman in the head and chest, NBC News reported.
Both wounded heroes were transported to Harlem Hospital.
Shortly after they arrived, officials announced that Officer Rivera had not survived his wounds, CNN reported.
Officer Rivera served the NYPD for two years.
McNeil was pronounced dead on Jan. 24, the New York Post reported.
Chief Essig said police recovered Glock 45 handgun with a 40-round magazine that McNeil used to shoot the officers at the scene.
He said detectives had determined the weapon used to shoot the officers was stolen in Baltimore in 2017, NBC News reported.
Chief Essig said that McNeil was on probation when he shot the heroes, the New York Daily News reported.
The cop killer had a criminal record that included a gun charge in North Carolina, assault on a police officer in Pennsylvania, and a felony narcotics charge in New York City.
Officer Mora, who was shot in the head and had a bullet lodged in his brain, went through two surgeries in the days that followed, the New York Post reported.
He passed away on Tuesday after his organs were donated to help save others.
“Some lucky person got a hero’s heart today,” a fellow officer told the New York Post.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell announced Officer Mora’s death in a tweet shortly after his death.
“Wilbert is 3 times a hero. 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,” Commissioner Sewell wrote.
Officer Mora joined the NYPD in 2018, the New York Post reported.
“True heroes never die,” NYPD Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said. “Our brother Police Officer Wilbert Mora has left us, but he will live on in the heart of every New York City police officer from this day forward.”
“Police Officer Mora showed us what it means to carry to our mission with courage, skill and humanity,” Lynch added. “His sacrifice will guide us as we continue that mission, but we cannot succeed alone.”
A fundraiser established to help both officers’ families in the wake of their loss has raised over $322,000 so far.
It’s with great sadness I announce the passing of Police Officer Wilbert Mora.
Wilbert is 3 times a hero. 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. pic.twitter.com/8JiWGbUYTn
— Commissioner Sewell (@NYPDPC) January 25, 2022
Wilbert Mora was a hero.
He served his city, protected his community and gave his life for our safety.
Our hearts are heavy. Our city is in mourning.
To his family, loved ones, and brothers and sisters in the NYPD: Your city is standing with you today and always.
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) January 25, 2022
All flags will continue to be flown at half-mast as a mark of respect to Officers Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera. pic.twitter.com/2FPOPhTvam
— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) January 25, 2022
We struggle for words to express the tragedy, to endure the pain of losing Officer Jason Rivera as we pray for Officer Wilbert Mora. And while things feel unsure now, what I know we can count on is their fellow Finest continuing their courageous work and honoring Jason’s legacy. pic.twitter.com/43BKcOxPJ8
— Commissioner Sewell (@NYPDPC) January 23, 2022
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of New York Police Department Officer Wilbert Mora, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Officer Wilbert Mora, your life mattered.