Maritza Ramos, wife of slain NYPD Det. Rafael Ramos, stepped into a renovated mortgage-free home in Cypress Hill, Brooklyn, on Wednesday, a year and half after a suicidal gunman gunned down her husband and his partner just four miles away.
At her husband’s funeral on a cool, sun-drenched afternoon in December 2014, cops and mourners looked on as an NYPD official handed Ramos a folded American flag that she held tightly to her chest, flanked by the couples two sons, Justin and Jaden.
Uniformed officers and American flags — this time unfolded and attached to poles in front of the Ramos’ families Ridgewood Avenue home — again were close by Wednesday as the detective’s widow and sons cut a stars and stripes-clad ribbon and celebrated a nation’s generosity.
“Rafael is looking down on you today. . . . He is proud,” said Frank Siller, chairman and CEO of the Staten Island-Based Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which raised $1.2 million from across the country to pay off the mortgages and renovate the family homes of the slain officer as well as his partner Wenjian Liu. “Proud that you have decided to stay in the home you both shared and for the dignity and strength you have shown.”
With her sons at her side, Maritza Ramos expressed her gratitude for the good deeds bestowed on her family — in many cases from people she will likely never meet.
“I truly thank you from the bottom of my heart,” she said on the front porch of her modest two-story home on a quiet residential street. “We appreciate what America has done for us.”
Last year, the Liu family received a similar donation for their home in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn.
Det. Ramos’ wife has not stood idle as help flowed in. She has returned the same support to five families of Dallas officers shot to death July 7 by a heavily armed gunman as they watched over a peaceful street demonstration to protest recent police shootings of unarmed black men. Maritza Ramos raised $10,000 through The Detective Rafael Ramos Foundation, which she started after her husband’s death on Dec. 20, 2014. Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, the man who killed both NYPD officers, fled afterward and took his own life a short time later.
Pastor Michael Durso of the Christ Tabernacle Church, where Ramos was an active parishioner, said at the ceremony that the fallen police officer — like Liu, posthumously promoted to detective — was “a gentle, quiet man with a spirit to mentor young people and young married couples.”
John Hodge, vice president of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, said besides the Ramos donation to the Dallas families, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, gave the families of each slain Dallas police officer $100,000 “with love from New York.’’
Siller, who started the foundation after his brother Stephen Siller, 34, of Rockville Centre, an FDNY firefighter assigned to Brooklyn Squad 1, was killed on Sept. 11, 2001.
The foundation’s mission is “not just about the money. It’s about being there and letting other families know they are not alone. We are part of your lives and will always be on this journey with you to do good for Liu, Rafael and my brother,” Siller said.
NYPD Deputy Insp. Sergio Centa remembered Det. Ramos “as a religious man. A friendly, family man and a great officer.’’ Centa said the refurbished home “means the families will never have to worry. It is a beautiful home which means the world to them because they know that we haven’t forgotten them.”