Slain Officer Wilbert Mora honored at St. Patrick’s Cathedral wake

For the second time in less than a week, a slain police officer was shouldered into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the shadow of a unified blue salute.

Police Officer Wilbert Mora and his partner Jason Rivera were shot in the hallway of a Harlem apartment on Jan. 21 while responding to a domestic dispute. Twenty-two-year-old Rivera died that night, but 27-year-old Mora clung to life until he succumbed to his injuries on Jan. 25. Rivera was honored last week during a two-day, emotional service, on Tuesday it was Mora’s turn.

Hundreds of NYPD officers stood to attention as the hearse carrying Mora’s remains slowly rolled up to St. Patrick’s Cathedral just after 11:30am. Shrouded in a commemorative flag, the casket was lifted onto the shoulders of six officers who somberly carried their fallen brother up the steps of the house of worship as spectators held their chests and offered salutes.

Members of the NYPD carry Police Officer Wilbert Mora’s casket into St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Feb. 1. Photo by Dean Moses 
With their hands on their hearts, mourners watched Mora’s remains arrive. Photo by Dean Moses

The wake was scheduled to take place from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., with many NYPD officials and dignitaries such as Mayor Eric Adams expected to attend the viewing. However, it wasn’t just the extended NYPD family who showed support. New Yorkers lined the barricades along Fifth Avenue in order to catch a glimpse of the procession and the coffin holding a man many have deemed a hero.

Alene Aguayo brought her son to showcase the way in which police officers are honored in New York City.

“The crime level in New York have gotten so bad. I’m 42 years old and I’ve never seen the crime level to this point. It’s definitely the government’s fault. The way police have been undermined for so many years now. They’re not respected, and we need to get them back to a place where the police are respected. My child needs to learn when he grows up to respect the police,” Aguayo told amNewYork Metro.

Photos of Officer Mora surrounded St. Patrick’s Cathedral in honor of the fallen hero. Photo by Dean Moses
Alene Aguayo brought her son to showcase the way in which police officers are honored in New York City. Photo by Dean Moses
Family members are helped from vans. Photo by Dean Moses

Aguayo hopes that through this tragedy, law enforcement will regain some admiration and veneration.

“It’s time for the new mayor, Mayor Adams to unfortunately use this as a catapult to change the city around back to where we trusted officers and we respected officers,” Aguayo said.

Steve Baruch shared a similar sentiment. When asked why he braved the cold to pay his respects to Mora, he looked up at the Cathedral thoughtfully.

“Because these people put their lives on the line to save us, they earned our respect. It is a terrible thing that someone would take someone else’s life. I feel for these officers because they get no respect. They take a lot of abuse and they put their lives on the line,” Baruch said.

When asked if he too feels that this tragedy could alter the public opinion of the NYPD, Baruch responded: “That’s too high of a price to pay.”

An NYPD officer pays his respect. Photo by Dean Moses
“Blue Lives Matter” read a large collection of flowers. Photo by Dean Moses
A religious leader watches the procession arrive. Photo by Dean Moses

In addition to being hailed as a hero for giving his life in the line of duty, Mora is also being celebrated for saving lives in death by being an organ donor. When Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell announced Mora’s passing, she called him three times a hero.

“Wilbert is three times a hero. 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, and our hearts are heavy,” Commissioner Sewell wrote on Twitter.

Mora’s funeral is scheduled for Feb. 2 at 9 a.m.

Officers gather to salute their fallen brother. Photo by Dean Moses
Hundreds NYPD officers marched to the cathedral to honor their fallen brother. Photo by Dean Moses
A officer dons a facemask as he prepares to enter the wake. Photo by Dean Moses