"NO GREATER DEVOTION TO SWORN DUTY CAN A POLICE OFFICER DEMONSTRATE TO GOD AND MAN THAN TO LAY DOWN HIS LIFE IN THE LINE OF DUTY"
TONY McLean was born on June 30, 1960. While serving his country in the United States Army, he was a member of the elite Green Berets. Tony was hired as a New York City Housing Authority Police Officer on July 2, 1985 and entered the New York City Police Academy. It was in the academy that he met Tony Weekes, who was soon to become his best friend.
After graduating from the academy on December 12, Tony McLean and Tony Weekes were assigned to Police Service Area (PSA) #2. PSA #2 is located at 560 Sutter Avenue, between Williams Avenue and Alabama Avenue, in the confines of the New York City Police Department's 75th precinct. This was many years before the eventual merger between the New York City, Transit, and Housing Police Departments which occurred in late 1994 and early 1995. At the time, police officers assigned to PSA #2 primarily patrolled Housing Authority Projects that were located in the confines of the 63, 67, 69, 71, 73, 75, 77, and 81 precincts. When the situation warranted, they responded to calls for service outside the projects as well.
After completing two months of field training, Tony McLean and Tony Weekes were assigned to my squad, Squad 7. They began working Sector "B". Sector "B" covered the northern-most projects in the 73 precinct. The projects included: Seth Low, Glenmore Plaza, Howard, Ocean Hill (or Ocean Chill as we all called it), Saratoga, Saratoga Square, and the Tapscott Rehab. At the time, two senior officers, Eddie Moore and John Wortham, worked Sector "A" which covered the southern-most projects in the 73. They included Van Dyke, Tilden, Woodson (two senior citizens buildings), Brownsville, and Langston Hughes (we called them Langston Blues.) For the most part, the two sectors were interchangeable and would always back each other on crimes in progress.
The new partners quickly developed a solid reputation with their fellow officers at PSA #2 and with the officers at the 73 precinct as a hard-working, motivated, and committed team. His military background proved an invaluable asset as Tony developed as a Police Officer. Although I was a Police Officer for six months longer then Tony McLean, he was four years older. His maturity, professionalism, and the respect he had for the public made a lasting impression on me.
I was only privileged enough to work with Tony McLean on one occasion. On Tuesday, July 8, 1986, Tony and I worked a 1525 by 2400 hours tour (3:25 to 12:00 p.m.) We worked in PSA #2 Sector "E" (my steady sector at the time) which covered housing projects in the confines of the 75 precinct. Our RMP (police car) was 9210. It was a fairly uneventful and an unusually quiet summer evening. We responded on 12 calls for police service. Several things still stick in my mind about that night however. First, the conversation was excellent all evening. Second, our RMP was in terrible shape. We were both surprised that it made it through the night. Lastly, was the boyfriend-girlfriend dispute we broke up near the corner of Stanley Avenue and Crescent Street. The woman was slightly intoxicated and repeatedly threatened to make a civilian complaint against us. After leaving the job, we were both slightly concerned. We were both still pretty new and neither of us had received a civilian complaint before. The woman never did make a complaint though. Tony and I joked about the job many times in the future.
On Tuesday evening, April 12, 1988, PSA #2, Squad 7 started their midnight tour at 2345 hours (11:45 p.m.) They would finish up the next morning, on April 13, at 0820 hours (8:20 a.m.) As usual, Roll Call was held in the Muster Room in the basement of the PSA. Sergeant Michael McEnroy, Squad 7's fairly new Sergeant conducted the Roll Call. I didn't work this evening. Instead, I worked the following morning. Tony McLean and Tony Weekes were given an assignment to search the four Dumont Avenue addresses of the Tilden Houses for a 10-year-old girl that had been reported missing. The buildings were (going east from Rockaway Avenue to Stone Avenue): 300, 330, 340, and 360 Dumont Avenue. Police Officer Ray Rosa and Police Officer Gerry Feist were assigned to search the Livonia Avenue addresses of Tilden. These buildings were (going east again from Rockaway Avenue to Stone Avenue): 265, 275, 305, and 315 Livonia Avenue.
A little after 0100 hours (1:00 a.m.), Tony McLean and Tony Weekes entered 340 Dumont Avenue. They took the elevator to the roof and began walking down in opposite stairwells. At the same time, Johnny Ray Robinson, a ruthless drug dealer, entered the lobby of 340 Dumont Avenue with two of his drug dealing cohorts, Kevin Lowery and Charles Gary. Lowery, had stolen drug money from Robinson. Robinson placed a 9mm Taurus semi-automatic pistol to his head. Lowery immediately puts his hands up and sunk to his knees. The three then heard the sound of Tony Weekes' nightstick tapping the wall and his police radio coming from the front stairwell which was located to the right of the elevators. Charles Gary entered that stairwell and ran past Tony Weekes. Johnny Ray Robinson ran up the back stairwell which was located to the left of the elevators. Tony Weekes exited the stairwell and saw Kevin Lowery running out the front door of the building, across Dumont Avenue, northbound toward the Brownsville Houses. Johnny Ray Robinson encountered Tony McLean on the rear stairwell between the 2nd and 3rd floors. It was now 0119 hours (1:19 a.m.). Tony Weekes heard three shots. He took cover between the two elevator doors and immediately heard the sound of his partner's nightstick as it fell and struck the floor in the rear stairwell. He ran to his fallen friend, held him, and transmitted a signal 10-13, assist police officer, over his police portable radio. P.O.'s Pierre and Frietas, two 73 precinct officers, were a block away when they heard the radio transmission. They responded and drove Tony McLean the one mile to Brookdale Hospital. At 0315 hours (3:15 a.m.), Police Officer Anthony O. McLean, Shield #2178, of the New York City Housing Authority Police Department passed away.
The next morning I woke up after a sound sleep. I turned on WCBS radio and heard the news. I was stunned. My parents came in the room and told me that they had heard the news a little earlier but they didn't want to wake me. The ten minute drive to work was torture. I always understood that being a police officer was a dangerous job. Several police officers had been killed during my time on the job. Just 6 1/2 weeks earlier, Police Officer Edward Byrne of the 103 precinct was brutally murdered in Jamaica, Queens while guarding a witness. Even so, the job kind of seemed like a game of cops and robbers. You ride around in a police car for 8 hours with your lights and sirens on, racing to jobs. Sometimes you would catch the bad guy; sometimes you didn't. After your tour of duty you would go home. I never personally knew a fellow officer that was killed. This changed things. I lost some of my innocence and my naivete that morning. I finally realized that being a police officer was not a game. We do our jobs like actors, but we are not on a stage. Sometimes the ends are all too real. And tragic. Even so, nearly ten years later, I still love being a police officer.
The members of Squad 7 (Sergeant Michael McEnroy, Police Officers Joseph Braithwaite, Gerald Feist, Michael Hanson, Cipriano Illiano, Mildred Miranda, Edward Moore, David Moskowitz, Ray Rosa, Peter Weber, and Anthony Weekes) and the other police officers assigned to PSA #2 lost a good friend that morning. New Yorkers lost a dedicated, caring, and compassionate police officer who loved serving his fellow citizens.
A few months later, my partner Peter Weber left PSA #2. Anthony Weekes had just recently started performing regular patrol duty again. We worked together for the next two months. We got along quite well. Even so, I knew that there was no way that I could have even begun to fill the void that the death of his partner had left. In that time, however, I grew to love and respect Anthony Weekes just as he had loved and respected Anthony McLean.
On Sunday, March 15, 1998, I went to PSA #2 to take the photo of the plaque that is pictured above. I saw only one person I knew who worked there when I was promoted to Sergeant in 1991 and left PSA #2. He told me that there are only about 15 officers who still worked at the PSA that were assigned there when Tony McLean was killed and that there were mostly young, inexperienced officers working at the command. I can only pray that these officers don't pass by his memorial plaque without taking a moment to pause and remember the sacrifice that he made.