WEYMOUTH — Cindy Chesna grasped her son Jack’s hand and put her arm around her daughter Olivia in the lobby of the police station Thursday morning. She and her children were wearing matching white T-shirts bearing the slogan, “#ChesnaStrong,” in honor of her slain husband, Weymouth police Sergeant Michael Chesna.
It was an emotional day for the Chesna family, but also a positive one, because they were there for a special occasion: Their mortgage had been paid off.
After receiving the mortgage payoff receipt at the press conference, Chesna expressed heartfelt thanks to the charity that launched the campaign to pay off her house, and everyone in the community for being so supportive since her husband’s death.
“It’s just amazing how everyone’s come together and helped my family,” she said. “I can’t express enough thanks to everybody.”
Chesna, 42, lived in Hanover with his wife and two young children when he was killed in the line of duty on July 15. Chesna, a decorated Army veteran, was shot and killed in Weymouth while responding to a call a half-hour before his shift was scheduled to end. According to police, 20-year-old Emanuel A. Lopes threw a rock at Chesna’s head, which knocked him to the ground. Lopes took Chesna’s gun and shot him about 10 times, police said.
Lopes then fired three rounds into the sliding glass doors of Vera Adams’s Torrey Street home, fatally wounding the 77-year-old widow, authorities said.
When police captured Lopes, he was still holding Chesna’s pistol, and evidence suggests he had fired all 15 or 16 bullets it held, police wrote in a report.
Soon after Chesna’s death, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation launched a campaign to pay off the mortgage for his family’s house and contributed $100,000 to the cause.
Donations came in from all over the country and beyond, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Israel, the Philippines, and Costa Rica.
Frank Siller, the chairman and CEO of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, thanked everyone who donated to the campaign, including the owners of the Hanover Mall and the City of Boston Credit Union for making sizeable contributions that allowed the foundation to fulfill its promise to Chesna’s family.
“We know the importance of a home,” Siller said at the press conference. “We know what it means. It’s so much more than just shelter. It’s comfort, it’s security. It’s a place to go.”
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was established in honor of Siller’s brother, fallen 9/11 firefighter Stephen Siller, to support the families of military and first responders killed in the line of duty.
Since 2015, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation has given more than $7 million to provide 27 families with a mortgage-free home.
After Siller presented the receipt to Chesna at the press conference, they both embraced.
Siller said he hoped it would bring some relief to the family, and give them one less thing to worry about.
“My brother and Mike — they don’t want us to be unhappy,” Siller said at the press conference. “They want us to celebrate life, and live life to the fullest . . . that’s the best way that any of us can honor these heroes.”
Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.