The wife of slain NYPD officer Jonathan Diller joins the tragic sisterhood of widows whose husbands were killed in the line of duty.

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By journalsofus.com


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It is a tragic brotherhood.

When a New York City police officer is killed, every NYPD widow It feels like they’ve been punched in the stomach, five shield survivors told the Post following the police officer’s killing Monday. Jonathan Diller31, was shot in Far Rockaway after he and other police officers approached a parked car.

“When I found out, I was breathless,” Leanne Simonsen said.

Jonathan Diller and his wife pose with their one-year-old son. facebook/jonnymac

“I was about to burst into tears without even knowing what happened,” said Simonsen, whose husband, Detective Brian Simonsen42, was killed five years ago while responding to a robbery at a cell phone store in Richmond Hill, Queens.

“My heart just broke.”

She and 108 other widows of police officers killed in the line of duty, a group that now includes Stephanie Diller, form a strong collective that helps new members cope with the pain and know that there is a blue army behind them.

The bullet that killed Diller passed under his vest and hit him in the stomach, a devastating detail for Leslyn Stewart.

She and her husband, NYPD Detective Dillon Stewart, had daughters ages 6 years and 4 months when he was shot and killed while trying to stop a driver who ran a red light in East Flatbush on Nov. 28. of 2005.

Leanne Simonsen, the widow of Det. Brian Simonsen, holds the flag covering his casket after his funeral at St. Rosalie Church in Hampton Bays, New York, on Wednesday, February 20, 2019. AP

The driver, Allan Cameron, opened fire and a bullet passed through the armhole of Stewart’s protective vest and pierced his heart.

“When I first learned about [Diller’s death]”To me there were a lot of similarities,” Stewart said.

“The fact that it went under his belt, as well as the fact that he was so young, had a family and understood what that devastation is like and all the connections. “It was really devastating.”

Detective Brian Simonsen, 42, was killed five years ago while responding to a robbery at a cell phone store in Richmond Hill, Queens. Courtesy of Leanne Simonsen
“I was about to burst into tears without even knowing what happened,” Leanne Simonsen said. jc rice

When her youngest daughter, Samantha, now 18 and a college freshman, learned of Diller’s fate, she called her mother in tears.

“She was crying hysterically, knowing it was a bullet that had gone under the vest,” the mother said.

Stewart and her daughter feel a kinship with Diller’s family because he leaves behind a young son, named Ryan.

Officer Dillon Stewart, 35, was fatally shot on November 28, 2005 in Brooklyn, New York, while attempting to stop a car with stolen license plates that had run a red light. AP
The driver opened fire and a bullet passed through the armhole of Stewart’s protective vest and pierced his heart. Pablo Martinka
Leslyn Stewart, the wife of fallen PO Dillon Stewart, photographed with her daughter Samantha at her husband’s wake at the New Life Tabernacle in East Flatbush on East 49th Street in Brooklyn. Pablo Martinka

“She cries for the father she never got to know,” Stewart said.

“And I think it would be the same with this 1-year-old.”

The widows meet regularly and help each other overcome the tragedy.

Slain NYPD officer Dillon Stewart, photographed smiling with his wife Leslyn Stewart. Courtesy of Leslyn Stewart
Stewart and her daughter feel a kinship with Diller’s family because he leaves behind a young son. Pablo Martinka

“It’s not a group you want to belong to,” Stewart said.

“But we support her and we will be there for her family.”

Widows also shared their fury over the liberal turn in the justice system that they say puts criminals first, as well as the lack of respect for the city’s best thanks to rhetoric of defunding the police.

Detective Patrick Rafferty was murdered with his partner Detective Robert Parker in 2004 after approaching a car driven by a known suspect in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Gordon M. Grant
Eileen Rafferty said her husband was in a crime unit and “literally spent hours away from us trying to protect the city and do his job, and he did a phenomenal job.”
Gordon M. Grant

“The idea of ​​repeat offenders irritates us all,” said Eileen Rafferty, whose husband, Detective Patrick Rafferty, was killed along with his partner, Detective Robert Parker, in 2004 after approaching a car driven by a known suspect. in East Flatbush. Brooklyn.

“It’s frustrating. It’s infuriating. That was something we talked about.”

The suspect, Marlon Legere, managed to get hold of Parker’s gun during a struggle and shot both officers repeatedly.

Their children, Kara and Kevin, were 12 and 9 years old when they received the tragic news. Her youngest daughter, Emma, ​​was informed in the morning. Gordon M. Grant

Widow Rafferty said her husband was in a crime unit and “literally spent hours away from us trying to protect the city and do his job, and he did a phenomenal job,” she said.

“It’s gotten to the point where police officers who work so hard, their work is not appreciated and the deaths are like a double whammy,” he continued.

Her children Kara and Kevin were 12 and 9 years old when they received the tragic news at the same time as their mother at their Bay Shore home.

Eileen Rafferty and her children were photographed together at their Bay Shore home. Gordon M. Grant

Their youngest daughter, Emma, ​​4, was asleep and they told her in the morning.

“I had to tell him that his father would never come home,” Rafferty recalled.

“And the other two were sitting with me and saying, ‘Don’t do it, Mommy! Do not do it! No, don’t tell him!’ “It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

Police Officer Robert Machate (right) was killed on March 3, 1989, after a skirmish broke out during a car stop in Flatbush. Obtained by the New York Post
“I was pregnant with my daughter when I found out he had been murdered that night,” Grace Machate said of the Brooklyn police crime unit, noting that she gave birth six months later. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Grace Ann Machate, 51, was pregnant with her daughter Nicole when her husband, police officer Robert Machate, was killed on March 3, 1989, after a skirmish broke out during a car stop in Flatbush.

One of the suspects took control of Machate’s gun and fired, causing the bullet to ricochet off the ground and under the 25-year-old officer’s vest.

“I was pregnant with my daughter when I found out he had been murdered that night,” she said of the Brooklyn police crime unit, noting that she gave birth six months later.

“She never had a moment with her father. “It’s just difficult.”

How post readers can help

You can help Officer Jonathan Diller’s 1-year-old son through the Silver Shield Foundation, which will help fund his future education. Diller, 31 years old, was shot dead during a traffic stop in Queens, leaving behind his wife, Stephanie, and baby Ryan.

The Silver Shield Foundation was launched in 1982 by the late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner for the families of New York police officers and FDNY firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty.

You can make a contribution at silvershieldfoundation.org/donate or send to: Silver Shield Foundation, 870 UN Plaza, 1st Floor, New York, NY 10017.

In the days before Diller’s funeral, some of the widows were thinking about what they would say to their wife.

“You never end up getting over it. You just learn to live with the pain…that’s 35 years later,” Machate said.

His daughter almost joined the NYPD, he said, but her plans were hampered by COVID delays in classes for new recruits.

Instead, he started working for a security company.

Rita Williams, 66, lost her husband, Keith, more than 30 years ago, when he and another officer were shot in the head while carrying a prisoner to Rikers Island on Nov. 13, 1989. Helayne Seidman

“In a way I’m glad he’s not in the department because now I’m scared,” she said.

Rita Williams, 66, lost her husband, Keith, more than 30 years ago, when their daughter was 12.

She is still furious about the circumstances.

Detective Williams was shot in the head along with his partner, Detective Richard Guerzon, while taking a prisoner from the Queens District Attorney’s Office to Rikers Island on November 13, 1989.

“It was a simple murder of two agents with this crazy man thinking he was going to escape.” Helayne Seidman

The killer, Jay Stoney Harrison, 25, stole a detective’s gun from an unsecured locker while he was left alone.

“From my husband[murder] “It was just disgusting,” the widow said.

“It was a simple murder of two agents with this crazy man thinking he was going to escape.”

“From my husband[murder] It was just disgusting,” Williams said. Helayne Seidman

She said Diller’s death was still a “gut punch” to her all these years later.

“You deal with it but it never goes away,” he said.

“And then when it happens again, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, another one.’ “It is very, very, very painful.”

He had this simple message for Stephanie Diller: “Wait, wait, wait.”

“There’s nothing more you can tell him. He doesn’t want to hear ‘everything is going to be okay and tomorrow will be a better day’ because right now he can’t see beyond this minute.”




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