We Never Stop Looking Out For Each Other E-mail
Written by Robert Mladnich   

Retired NYPD detective Greg Boyle spent 21 years on the job, working the streets of Brooklyn without ever firing a shot. After leaving the Department in December 2002, he worked part-time as an armed security guard in Cellini Jewelers, which is located in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan. The 54-year-old Boyle never foresaw the events of November 15, 2008 when a young man entered the store, smashed a display case with a .45 caliber handgun, and started taking whatever he could get his hands on. Boyle pulled his weapon and grabbed hold of the gunman. The next thing he remembers is lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

He heard the crackle of a police radio, and the frightening words of an officer urging the dispatcher to get an ambulance there forthwith because the victim was likely to die. Although he was in shock, Boyle vaguely recalls the friendly face of an officer reassuring him that he was going to be alright and telling him, "Don’t worry, ESU is here."

"I really didn't know what was going on, but those words calmed me down," said Boyle, who still has a bullet lodged near his armpit. "While working as a cop, whenever there was something you couldn't handle, you called the Emergency Service Unit. There’s nothing they can’t do. Whatever my condition was, I knew I was in good hands." The reality of the situation was actually much more dire than what Boyle was told. One of the responding officers, Det. Dennis Canale, is a physician’s assistant. When he got his first look at Boyle, he didn’t know he was an ex-cop. All he saw was a shooting victim who he was certain was going to die.

"He had a serious graze wound on his arm and blood was oozing out of his chest with air bubbles, so I knew the lung was affected," said Canale, who works part-time in the surgery departments of the Staten Island and Richmond University Hospitals. "I put my finger in the bullet hole to get some air back into the lung, so the lung cavity wouldn’t collapse and compress the heart."

While Canale worked feverishly on Boyle, his heavily-armed colleagues, which included Sgt. Joseph Lisi and Detectives Anthony Borowiec, Joseph Delre and Tracy Young, assumed strategic positions around the store and in the hotel lobby. They had no idea if the shooting was part of a bigger conspiracy. As members of the Operation Hercules Anti-Terrorism Initiative, they are used to expecting the unexpected. "It was a very intense scene," said Lisi. "We happened to be in the area, so we were on the scene within minutes. We could smell the gunpowder as soon as we entered the hotel. People were hysterical, running in all directions. Having Dennis on hand was like having a doctor on the scene."

Prior to removing Boyle to the hospital, the officers showed him the face of the suspect, who had been held down by a fellow worker. Boyle easily identified him as the gunman. "To be honest, we saw that as his dying declaration," said Lisi. "Greg was in very bad shape. He was white as a T-shirt and bleeding terribly. It's a miracle he survived."

Although still in immense pain, Boyle was sent home from the hospital after one week to be cared for by his lovely wife Alice, daughter Jackie, son Ed, who is an NYPD officer, and son Earl. On January 12, he finally felt well enough to invite his rescuers over for an emotional reunion that was catered by the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA). The SBA presented the officers involved, including Boyle, with "Certificates of Honor."

"We are all so happy that you are alright," said Lisi. "I can’t tell you how much that means to us." "There are no words I can say to express my gratitude to all of you," said Boyle, as tears welled in his eyes. "I'm just overwhelmed. You guys were my heroes when I was on the job. I never thought the respect I have for ESU could get stronger, but it sure did on November 15. You guys saved my life. All I can say is thank you. Thank you."

Robert Mladinich is the communications director for the NYC Sergeants Benevolent Association. For five years in the early 1990s, his partner was Greg Boyle in the 66 Detective Squad in Brooklyn.

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