Members of the NYPD salute Tuesday as the body of Officer Wilbert Mora is transferred from NYU Langone Medical Center to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manhattan. (Gardiner Anderson/for New York Daily News)
Officer Wilbert Mora, fatally wounded by a deranged gunman in a Harlem domestic dispute turned deadly ambush, kept giving to New York even after his death.
Mora, 27, clung to life for four days following the shooting, with his family directing doctors to remove his heart, liver, pancreas and both kidneys for donations expected to save multiple lives, officials said.
“Wilbert is three times a hero,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell in a statement Tuesday announcing his death. “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.”
Mora died at NYU Langone Medical Center, where he was transferred Sunday from Harlem Hospital. Fellow Officer Jason Rivera, 22, was shot and killed alongside Mora last Friday while answering a 911 call on a dispute between a Harlem woman and her ex-con son, with sources telling the Daily News the fight started in part over the shooter’s strict vegan diet.
The gunman exited a bedroom and opened fire on the officers without warning, police said.
Mora’s move to NYU Langone was arranged so doctors could remove the dying cop’s organs at the direction of his relatives. A member of the slain officer’s family needs a kidney transplant, two NYPD sources said.
Mora’s liver, kidneys, heart and pancreas were en route Tuesday to three people on the New York State organ donation list and two people out of state, said Leonard Achan, president and CEO of LiveOnNY, which oversees and facilitates organ donation in New York.
“His family knew their brave and dedicated son would want to continue to save lives, even in death,” said Achan. “Officer Mora’s final gift was the gift of life ... so that he may ‘Live On’ while saving the lives of others.”
A police motorcade was to carry the officer’s body from the hospital to the medical examiner’s office before Mora is brought Wednesday to Riverdale Funeral Home in Inwood.
Rivera’s funeral is Friday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“True heroes never die,” said Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association. “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.”
The recently married Rivera, with just 14 months on the job, died Friday evening.
“These are the guys everyone imagines a cop to be,” said Inspector Amir Yakatally, the commanding officer of the 32nd Precinct, where the two slain officers worked. “The best version of a cop — that’s these two.”
Yakatally told The News that Rivera and four-year veteran Mora were the “most positive individuals you could find in the precinct” and specifically cited Rivera’s upbeat personality.
“This is a guy who would come to work early every day,” he recalled. “He loved interacting with the people. And Mora was great to the new officers coming in.”
A neighbor recalled Mora as a well-regarded man whose death tore a hole in the lives of those close to him.
“Everyone who knew [him] was very proud of him,” said Edgard Vega, 27, a special-needs paraprofessional at a public school. “His mom and dad were especially proud. His death has affected us a lot. It shows how dangerous it has gotten to be a police officer.”
Gunman Lashawn McNeil, 47, was fatally wounded by NYPD rookie Sumit Sulan in the wild shootout and died Monday afternoon. McNeil arrived in Harlem from out of town in November to visit his ailing mother, who had recently undergone heart surgery, and help care for his brother, who has lymphoma.
But mother and son argued from the start of his visit, she later told police — about the anti-government podcasts he listened to, about his hatred of cops and even about his vegan diet.
She also acknowledged her son had a gun, but made it clear she didn’t want any weapons in her apartment. When she called for help at 6:15 p.m. on Friday, she gave police no indication McNeil was armed, police sources said.
McNeil was actually carrying a Glock 45 handgun equipped to hold 40 rounds of ammo, and a later search of his bedroom uncovered a fully-loaded American Tactical AR-15 assault-style rifle hidden under a mattress.
The trio of officers arrived at her apartment on W. 135th St. for an apparently routine domestic dispute that quickly turned into a bloodbath. When McNeil ignored his mother’s call to come out of the bedroom and speak with police, the tensions heightened.
Sulan stayed behind with the mother and her other son while Rivera and Mora headed down the 30-foot hallway toward the bedroom where McNeil was holed up.
That’s when “the door swings open and numerous shots were fired, striking both officers,” NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig recounted.
McNeil shot Rivera first, police said. As the young cop fell backward, his body-worn camera pointing to the ceiling, McNeil stepped over him and fired at Mora before Sulan returned fire, hitting McNeil in the right arm and head. McNeil died from his injuries on Monday at Harlem Hospital.
Responding officers carried their wounded brothers out of the building and rushed them to the hospital, where Mayor Adams later declared it is ”our city against the killers.”
McNeil had an open arrest warrant for absconding probation in 2005 in a Queens drug possession case, records show. He also had multiple out-of-state arrests on his record, including for gun possession in South Carolina in 1998, a case that was later dismissed.
In 2003, he pleaded guilty to possession of drugs with intent to deliver in Pennsylvania. He served roughly a year behind bars and was released in 2004, authorities in Lehigh County confirmed.