Last week, after they cried for their fallen sister Miosotis Familia at her funeral in the Bronx, her NYPD colleagues from the Four-Six retired to a place in Yonkers called Rory Dolan’s.
Familia was 48 years old, with 12 years on the job and three kids and an ailing 87-year-old mother at home, when a guy who hated cops walked up to the police vehicle she was sitting in and shot her in the head.
Familia was a maternal figure to a lot of the cops at the 46th Precinct, and they were crushed by her murder. They debated canceling a long-planned outing to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox and Yankees play.
Inspector Phil Rivera, their commanding officer, learned of their reservations.
“She would want you to go,” Rivera said. “She would want you to be together, to enjoy yourselves.”
NYPD Sergeant Ed Arias thought they might need some minor logistical help in Boston, nothing big. He approached Sergeant Karen Irvin, who grew up in Wakefield.
“You should talk to Kevin,” Irvin told him. She meant Kevin Molis, chief of police in Malden.
Molis is a friend of NYPD Deputy Chief Chris McCormack, former commander of the 46th, and, like police officers from all over the country and all over the world, Molis had attended Familia’s funeral. Molis told Arias, “Leave it with me.”
Molis talked to Massachusetts State Police Lieutenant Tim Luce, who said, “Leave it with me.”
Then Molis called Willie Gross, chief of the Boston Police Department, and Gross said, “Leave it with me.”
When the bus carrying 55 cops from the 46th Precinct pulled onto the Massachusetts Turnpike in Sturbridge Sunday afternoon, a State Police escort was waiting for them. For the next 60 miles into Boston, Arias and the other New York cops looked out the windows and shook their heads.
On almost every overpass they went under, police vehicles flashed their blue lights, firefighters stood at attention, EMS workers stood by their ambulances. First responders from small towns showing respect.
“It was overwhelming,” Arias said. “We had people crying on the bus.”
Once they pulled off the Turnpike, Boston police officers joined the escort, leading the bus to a prime parking spot on Ipswich Street.
As the New York cops wearing T-shirts emblazoned with Familia’s shield number piled off the bus, Gross and Molis greeted them. Inside Fenway, Red Sox workers gave them a tour and led some of them onto the infield.
Officer Joey Ayala was invited to apply white spray paint to home plate, a pre-game ritual. It was Ayala who — with Sergeant Keith Bryan — shot and killed Officer Familia’s killer a block away from where she was murdered.
Familia’s photograph was put on the big screen and the crowd cheered her memory and sacrifice. Ayala was given the honor of shouting: “Play ball!”
As the contingent of New York cops headed to their seats in the right field grandstand, Red Sox fans cheered them, clapped them on the back and hugged them. They say there’s no crying in baseball, but there was some crying in the right field grandstand on Sunday night.
“We needed it,” Arias was saying. “There’s a big hole in our hearts.”
The Red Sox won the game, splitting the series with the Yankees. There’s a pennant race on. But in the moment, that much ballyhooed rivalry meant nothing. Just as it meant nothing after 9/11, when Boston cops and firefighters showed up in Lower Manhattan. As it meant nothing after the Marathon was bombed and NYPD officers drove a food truck up to feed first responders in the Back Bay.
The bus full of groggy cops pulled up in front of the Four-Six in the Bronx at 4 a.m. Monday. Ed Arias got off the bus with only one regret.
“I’m a die-hard Yankees fan,” he said, “and now I can never say anything bad about Boston again.”