Officer Ruotolo just wanted one more day as a beat cop before he was transferred to desk detail for the NYPD Management and Information System. His fellow officer Joe Johnson made no hesitation to switch assignments and work crowd control at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan instead of patrolling “Fort Apache,” a dangerous area in the Bronx. Neither could have predicted the fateful outcome of that decision.
It was approximately 184 hours on February 14, 1984 when NYPD Officer Thomas Ruotolo of the 41st Precinct was shot and killed by a wanted felon, who just minutes earlier committed a gun point robbery of a moped.
It didn’t take long for the officers to identify the suspect after the call came over the radio.
“Right off the corner of 149th Street, in the gas station, they see a guy on a moped,” Chief of Dept. Terence Monahan said.
Without any warning whatsoever, the felon pulled gun and fired one shot that killed Officer Ruotolo instantly.
“Didn’t even have a chance to get out of the car. Shot and killed him in the car.”
2 other officers were also injured in the ensuing gun battle. The robber, George Agosto was later caught at a nearby hospital and is now serving 40 years to life in prison.
The incident still haunts Officer Johnson to this day as he speculates about what would’ve happened had they not switched assignments. “It could have been me, or it could have been Kenny, or it could have been both of us. Who knows?” he said.
A 30-minute documentary recounting the incident was created in Ruotolo’s honor called ‘Every 58 Hours.’
Both Monahan and Johnson have lobbied to rename a street near where Ruotolo was killed in his honor, which is set to finally be dedicated this week on the 35-year anniversary of his death.
On February 14, 2019, the family of Tom Ruotolo, the NYPD and 41 Pct. will hold a memorial mass in his honor at St. Athanasius Church 878 Tiffany St Bronx NY 10459.
After the service, there will be a street renamed after Officer Ruotolo on Southern Boulevard between Intervale Avenue and Longwood Avenue.
Numerous active and retired offices of all ranks plus the press and dignitaries will be present to celebrate this long overdue honor for Officer Ruotolo’s sacrifice.
If you are in NYC on Valentine’s Day, we ask you to show up to celebrate the memory, life and legacy of a heroic police officer that was shot and killed in cold blood. His life was taken for no reason whatsoever except for doing his job protecting the people of the 41Pct., The Bronx and all of New York City.
You can call the 41 Pct. at (718) 542-4771 or the Community Affairs Officer at (718) 542-7964 for additional details and directions.