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Ozone Park unites for fallen officer Peter Figoski


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

In light of the fact that four of the five men nabbed as suspects in the tragic, shooting death of fallen officer Peter Figoski are from Ozone Park, elected officials and residents of the community banded together to raise money and spirits for Figoski’s family.

“We wanted to do something in this community to show that those criminals are not a reflection of the people in this neighborhood. There are good, solid people in this community,” said Matt Turner of the Make a Difference Christmas Effort.

The Make a Difference Christmas Effort — which hosted a benefit on December 22 at St. Mary Gate of Heaven School — raised $5,000 for the wife and four daughters Figoski leaves behind.

Figoski, 47, of West Babylon, LI, was shot and killed on December 12 while responding to a robbery in Brooklyn, according to published reports. His partner pursued and captured the gunman, Lamont Pride, who has been charged with first-degree murder. Figoski was posthumously promoted to detective.

“This tragedy created such a profound loss, not only for the family but for the whole city,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich, who attended the event. “There are lots of people who want to make a difference, who want to help the family, but they just don’t know how. This is a way for them to come out and show their support.”

The Peter Figoski Scholarship Fund — set up by The New York Post to help put the four girls through college — collected over $1 million in just one week, according to published reports.

On an annual basis, the Make a Difference Christmas Effort adopts families in need — within the five boroughs and beyond — and provides them with winter gear, essential clothing and items on their holiday wish list.

This year, they dedicated one benefit to specifically help Figoski’s family.

“When we heard about the tragedy, we thought it was appropriate to have it here in Ozone Park,” said Thomas Flood, the effort’s co-coordinator. “We wanted to try and express our concern and support for this family in need and bring smiles to people’s faces when things are most difficult during what should be a joyous time.”

According to Flood, the family does not yet know about the money raised. The Make a Difference Christmas Effort will approach the family sometime after New Year’s.

“I want the NYPD and the family to know that they have the support, the prayers, the love and respect of this community,” said Congressmember Bob Turner, who also attended the event. “It’s sad what happened and that most of the perpetrators are residents here, but it does not reflect on the character and good will of this neighborhood.”

To join the cause, Flood said check donations can be mailed to the Make a Difference Christmas Effort through St. Mary Gate of Heaven Parish, located at 101-25 104th Street, Ozone Park, N.Y. 11416.