Bronx police hold vigil for fallen officer who succumbed to COVID-19

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Officers bow their heads during a moment of silence.
Photo by Dean Moses

On Tuesday night, NYPD officers held a vigil for a fallen Bronx cop who succumbed to COVID-19.

It has been exactly one year since COVID-19 first ravaged New York City, and while the life-saving vaccines brings us a slow and steady return to normalcy, the deadly virus continues to claim lives.  On March 28, Police Officer Angel Santiago from Housing Police Service Area (PSA) 7 was the 54th member of the NYPD to perish from the novel coronavirus. 

In memory of the 42-year-old officer, a prayer vigil was held just outside of PSA 7 at 737 Melrose Ave. Overseen by Reverend Denis Oswald and Councilmember Fernando Cabrera on March 30, fellow officers lined up at the rear of the building to say their final goodbyes. 

Deputy Inspector John J. Potkay from Housing Police Service Area 7 expressed his sorrow for the loss of Officer Angel Santiago. Photo by Dean Moses

Santiago joined the NYPD in 2016, after serving seven years as a school safety agent. Many in attendance recalled his kind-hearted demeanor and willingness to lay down his life for his community.  Deputy Inspector John J. Potkay remembered the man behind the shield. He described Santiago as not just an officer but a loving son, father, and brother. Smiling, he added that Santiago was an avid Mets fan who brought life and laughter wherever he went.  

“His even-keeled temperament made him someone you could rely on, trust and connect with. He lit up every room he went into and was an easy person to talk to and share a laugh with. He truly made his mark here at PSA 7 taking the time to listen to fellow cops and offering a lending hand,” Potkay said.

Officers from the Housing Police Service Area 7 paid their respects for Officer Angel Santiago. Photo by Dean Moses

Santiago leaves behind a wife and four children, to whom Potkay offered his deepest condolences for their loss.

“You never say hello to a person thinking it’s the last time you’ll do so,” Potkay said, adding, “We are here together, his extended family with a message of sorrow and prayer, but also unyielding love. To the family of Angel Santiago, we are here for you and always will be.”

Rev. Denis Oswald led a prayer in memory of Officer Angel Santiago. Photo by Dean Moses

City Councilman Fernando Cabrera also extended his sympathies, sharing that he too knows the feeling of losing a loved one to COVID-19. In August, Cabrera’s mother passed away from the virus. He underscored that officers, like Santiago face all sorts of dangers in their line of duty, and the virus has been an unimaginable and invisible assailant to battle over the past year.  

“My heart goes out to all the men and women in blue here, who risk their lives on a daily basis out there. Not just with the issues they have to deal with in their job, but now with COVID-19. So, we salute this great man. We salute officer Santiago today for all the work that he did in our community because without safety and order we don’t have anything,” Cabrera said.

The vigil began with a prayer from Reverend Oswald Denis and ended with the man of faith instructing attendees to release balloons in memory of Officer Angel Santiago as he yelled into the night: “We will see you again!”  

Officers release balloons into the night sky. Photo by Dean Moses