They carried Brian Moore out of St. James Roman Catholic Church on Friday, carried him out into the sunshine one last time, having praised his dedication and his sacrifice, having praised who he was and wanted to be; who he might have become, given the chance.
Even having forgiven his choice of baseball teams; that, being the Baltimore Orioles.
But, lauded by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and posthumously promoted to detective by NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, in the end none of it might be enough to lift the sorrow of the otherwise mournful day. Shot in the line of duty working plainclothes Saturday night in Queens Village, shot in the head by an ex-convict who, police said, has a lengthy criminal record, Moore, a native of Massapequa, died two days later. He was just 25.
"We might ask ourselves: Where was God last Saturday?" Msgr. Robert J. Romano, an NYPD chaplain, said as he celebrated the Mass in the Seaford church -- though celebrated seems such a tough word, circumstances considered. As Romano later said, describing the service, the act of sacrifice Moore, in being an officer, a cop, had made, as all those who wear the uniform pledge to make every time they wear that uniform: "Time heals all wounds. Please, never believe that. As we say in Brooklyn, it ain't true."
The person who said that, Romano said, never lost any one they loved. "We learn to live on with our lives . . . But the wounds will always be there."
They had lined the streets, thousands of police officers, shoulder to shoulder, in full dress uniform, standing still, standing silent -- standing, solemn -- to mark the arrival of the procession more than two hours earlier outside St. James.
First, came the line of police motorcycle patrol officers, then the hearse and the limousines and, finally, the marked police units. Mayor de Blasio and his wife stood with Commissioner Bratton. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) were there; so were Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto and acting Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter. Officers from the NYPD, from the Nassau and Suffolk police departments -- from law enforcement in places such as Syracuse, Philadelphia and New Jersey; from agencies across the United States and Canada -- all had come to pay their respects.
The tailgate of the hearse, which arrived in front of St. James flanked by marching uniformed NYPD pallbearers, opened just after 11:20 a.m. and those men, eight of them, gently lifted the coffin bearing Moore out -- as a solitary bagpiper started with the at-once joyful and sorrowful notes of "Amazing Grace." Six of those pallbearers, the other two in tow, then took that coffin, covered in the traditional green and white NYPD departmental flag, into St. James to be met by Romano. There, the department flag was removed, the chaplain sprinkling holy water on top of the coffin, a symbol of Moore's baptism, before the coffin was covered with white cloth.
Moore's sister stood by, crying audibly. His father, her father, stood behind -- sobbing quietly. An NYPD officer, hands covered in ceremonial white gloves, fought back tears as he walked down the center aisle of the church, following.
Romano praised Moore as "an American hero."
As the monsignor said: "He lived a life that was very short, but did many great things, with his family with his school . . . He was a team player."
Later de Blasio, in eulogizing Moore, said: "He gave what Abraham Lincoln called 'the last full measure of devotion . . . Brian Moore represented the best of New York City . . . He made the ultimate sacrifice while keeping our city safe."
De Blasio acknowledged the "many, many thousands" of law enforcement officers mourning in solidarity. "We are all gathered in one purpose, to mourn the loss of a great man," the mayor said, adding: "We all are heartbroken, as are the people of our city. Our hearts today are heavy. Our hearts are with the Moore family."
With certainty the tens of thousands of officers, the friends and family of Officer Moore, felt the sting of those wounds as they mourned his death Thursday at the Fredrick J. Chapey & Sons Funeral Home in Bethpage. With certainty, they understood there at St. James, where, among the mourners, were the family of NYPD Det. Steven McDonald, paralyzed in a 1986 shooting, and the family of Wenjian Liu, ambushed and shot dead with his partner, Officer Rafael L. Ramos, in December in Brooklyn. They were the two most-recent NYPD officers slain in the line of duty, before Moore.
Bratton, the NYPD commissioner, praised Moore's dedication, forgiving him for being a fan of the Baltimore Orioles -- and noting that, while the young policeman was a jokester, he also was a consummate professional. "He had an eye for the street," Bratton said, adding: "He had the gift. . . . If he shook your hand, and said he was going to do something, it was going to get done. We need more like him. We all need to be more like him."
In an announcement met with rousing applause during the otherwise somber proceedings, Bratton told the congregants that the NYPD had posthumously promoted Moore to detective, his new gold detective's shield to follow in line after those of Ramos and Liu, who also had been promoted posthumously.
As PBA president Pat Lynch said before the Mass began: "Sometimes folks don't understand why we do this, why when a police officer dies, uniforms from around the country respond, and the answer is quite simple: If the roles were reversed, Brian would be here for us. It's what we do, we take the time to lift up a family and now take care of them.
"We come together," Lynch said before the Mass, where about 50 family members of NYPD officers killed in the line of duty were among those inside the church, which has a seating capacity of 850.
"We make that family part of our family for the rest of their lives," he said. "So when you stand patch to patch, whether your patch says Louisiana, or it says Florida, or it says California, we're all New York City police officers today."
Shot on Saturday night, Moore died two days later at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. Demetrius Blackwell, 35, was arrested about 90 minutes afterward in connection with the shooting. His arraignment was attended by scores of uniformed officers. Charges against him have been upgraded to include first-degree murder -- a charge that carries a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
So, Friday morning, tens of thousands came to pay their respects, to say goodbye.
And so, Friday afternoon, they carried Brian Moore, now and forever an NYPD detective, out of St. James, to a black hearse -- headed toward his final resting place; to be buried at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.
And police helicopters soared overhead to the accompaniment of "America the Beautiful." And fellow officers, thousands of them from departments far and wide, stood at attention. Saluting. Honoring.
Paying their last respects.
With Darran Simon