Officers down: Cop, firefighter veteran of 20 years, corrections officer veteran of 19 years both die unexpectedly

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BLOOMINGDALE, NJ– The Bloomingdale Police Department is mourning the loss of one of their officers this week.

Friday morning, BPD Police Officer Gary Walker, 53 years old, who was also an Oakland, NJ firefighter, died due to complications related to COVID-19.

Walker had been in a coma for 30 days with sickness from the virus. His wife, Danielle, was keeping an online medical journal informing people of his progressively worse condition, including heart and lung problems.

Officer Walker was a 20-year veteran. He and Danielle have a young daughter, Demi.

Following Walker’s death, Danielle said on Facebook:

“The pain and sorrow that Demi and I feel is indescribable. The world has lost the greatest man we know.”

The New Jersey State PBA said in a Facebook post:

“On behalf of Chief Joseph Borell, It is with extreme regret that I have to announce the passing of PO Gary Walker to the Covid 19 virus a little after 2am this morning. Gary was a 20 year veteran of the Bloomingdale Police Department.

He was an dedicated member of the department and their PBA delegate. Mostly he was a dedicated husband and father to his 12 year old daughter.

Gary fought the impossible fight having been in a coma for over 30 days. His true spirit showed on how he refused to quit ..Please keep Gary, his family and the Bloomingdale Police department in your prayers & thoughts..”

Bloomingdale borough said:

“Officer Walker was a selfless, dedicated police officer that touched the lives of so many, he always flourished by bringing people together.” 

Officer Walker joined the Oakland fire department in 1987 and became Fire Company 2’s assistant chief.

The OFD said on Facebook:

“Gary, you fought one hell of a fight against this horrible virus. To say you will truly be missed is an understatement.”

BPD said in a statement:

“Officer Walker will be truly missed by his BPD family, all those who served within municipal departments around him and our Borough residents he so deeply touched with his extremely unique sense of humor and unwavering dedication to duty. 

For all who have contracted Coronavirus, or those who unselfishly continue to care for those needing care in the hospital or at home, we pray for enduring care and healing.”

No service or way of honoring Officer Walker has been planned yet, but the department and PBA are adamant that something will be.

Earlier this week, the third New Jersey Corrections Officer died, also to COVID-19 related illness.

Senior Corrections Police Officer Maria Gibbs was 47 years old. Tuesday afternoon, William Sullivan, the president of PBA Local 105, said Officer Gibbs died of “cardiac and kidney issues related to COVID-19.”

Sullivan said:

“She had been doing well for awhile, but then it took a turn for the worse and she was on a ventilator. Her body gave out from all the treatments.”

Gibbs was married with four children. She is a 19-year veteran who worked at the Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton.

Her husband was also reportedly diagnosed with COVID-19, but has not shown any symptoms. 

Gibbs, according to Sullivan, went to work everyday knowing she could possibly contract the virus. He said:

“She sacrificed herself for her job.”

Sullivan advised that a procession would take place for Officer Gibbs on April 29. 

According to nj.com:

“A procession will line up in the parking lot of Willingboro High School, 20 South JFK Way, and will drive by the funeral home about 1 p.m., when family services are expected to conclude.”

Nj.com also reported:

“Earlier this month, Corrections Police Officer Nelson Perdomo, 44, of Middlesex County, died in a hospital of complications from COVID-19. Perdomo worked at East Jersey State Prison in Rahway.

Bernard Waddell Sr., 56, who worked corrections at the Hudson County jail, died after contracting the coronavirus, officials said.”

Including Officer Gibbs, 27 jailers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 at Central Reception, and 427 workers in state prisons have tested positive.

PBA officers are calling for widespread testing of jailers and inmates alike for the virus at all NJ prisons, whether or not they’re showing symptoms. 

Sullivan said:

“We’re giving it to each other. Officers walk along a 3 or 4-foot wide corridor up and down a tier with 90 inmates in cells with open bars breathing on them and each other.”

Michael Tirado is with the NJ PBA Local 105 as well.

He said:

“We just got to keep pushing for more PPE. We have asked for lesser movements with the inmates and they have listened to us.”

Of Officer Gibbs, Tirado said:

“She was in the hospital for about three weeks to a month. She had some good days and had some bad days and it was tragic when I heard she passed away.”

Tirado has also been diagnosed with COVID-19, but he’s recovering well at home in quarantine. Even so, he’s still fighting for his fellow officers.

“When we hear that Wawa and Costco and other retailers are getting hazard pay or a raise because of this, it’s frustrating. Here we are on the frontlines, dealing with the worst of the worst and our officers are getting nothing but their straight pay.”

In addition to that, they don’t have proper N95 masks in the prisons, which is something the union is working on getting.

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The other two New Jersey State Corrections Officers to have died from COVID-19 are Bernard Waddell Sr., who passed away April 1, and Nelson Perdomo, who died April 9.

Waddell was a 28-year veteran and worked at the Hudson County jail. He was married and a father of three, with one daughter having previously passed away. 

Waddell’s son, Bernard Jr., is an officer in Union City, NJ.

Ron Edwards, Hudson County’s director of corrections, said of Wadell Sr:

“He was a good officer and even a better man. Always had a smile and always had a kind word. A true gentleman and brave officer.”

Nelson Perdomo was a 19-year veteran working at the East Jersey State Prison in the Avenel section of Woodbridge.

He was 44 years old, married with three children, ages 13-18.

The State PBA said on their Facebook page:

We have lost another one of our own to this virus. Correctional Police Officer Nelson Perdomo a 19 year veteran of the NJ Dept. of Corrections served with honor at East Jersey State Prison. He was a hero who will be missed by so many. Pray for his wife and three children.”

Law Enforcement Today is praying for officers in New Jersey and around the nation, for their safety in all aspects of policing. Stay safe and stay healthy.

 

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