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Hundreds of mourners packed a Bensonhurst church last week to pay respects to a borough native who died before his time, but lived out his dream as a New York City police officer. Bay Parkway was bathed in blue uniforms as mourners arrived at St. Anthansius Church, 2154 61st Street, on Thursday morning to pay final respects to Police Officer Kevin Lee, who died the previous Friday as he and his team raced to capture a crew of shoplifters in midtown Manhattan. Officials said that Lee died of an apparent heart attack, although the city medical examiners had yet to rule on a cause of death. But those attending the moving service did not focus on how the 31-year-old father died, but rather how he lived. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was in attendance along with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and other dignitaries, set the tone by stating that Lee died doing what he lived, what he was born to do. His pride in the shield was surpassed by only one other great love his family, Bloomberg said. As Lees widow Erica and six-year-old son Adam choked back tears, Bloomberg told Lees family that the fallen cop gave his life so the rest of us could live ours safely and peacefully. Both Lees widow and mother had notes read about how Lee showed them a love that they didnt know exist. Anyone who has met him has encountered a great soul with an incessant desire to live life joyfully and help the less fortunate do the same, said family friend DAmil Pizarro, who attended Lees wedding. Family and friends said Lee, a Bensonhurst native, spent his childhood in Dongan Hills, Staten Island, and graduated Staten Island Technical High School. From the outset, Lee loved hanging around police officers and often dreamed of becoming one, friends said. His dream became a reality at least in part when he became an Auxiliary Police Officer for the 122nd Precinct in Staten Island. After attending classes at St. Johns University, Grymes Hill, Lee joined the NYPD in 1995. Over the next ten years he quickly moved up in the ranks, making 200 arrests and earning a half dozen commendations until he was assigned to the Manhattan North Grand Larceny Unit dedicated to midtown Manhattan, Commissioner Kelly said. His colleagues said that Lee had an amazing ability to spot and track down shoplifters in all the major department stores, even during the busiest of days. His talent helped him earn the nickname, the Crow, cops told reporters. It was during one of these shoplifting spotting sessions when he died. Police said that he and his team were in the process of apprehending three suspects who had stolen a laptop computer when Lee collapsed and died. As of this writing, none of the three thieves have been charged in Lees death.
©2006 Community Newspaper Group
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