By Janee Law
Austin Tuozzolo, son of late Greenlawn resident and NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, had some added security Tuesday morning as he walked to the bus for his first day of kindergarten.
Five-year-old Austin and his mother, Lisa, Tuozzolo’s widow, were surprised when they opened the front door of their Greenlawn home and were greeted by 35 officers of the NYPD’s 43rd Precinct, where Tuozzolo served before he was killed in the line of duty last year.
Lisa Tuozzolo said Austin “was a little confused at first, but once I explained to him that daddy’s friends wanted to make sure he got on the bus OK, and start off his first day of kindergarten the right way, he understood.”
The surprise came just before 8:30 a.m., when Tuozzolo opened her front door with Austin to take the “typical front porch pictures” before the first day of school.
“I was shocked and I couldn’t believe it,” said Tuozzolo. Austin attends the Elwood School District, which his brother, 4-year-old Joseph, will start kindergarten in next year.
Tuozzolo added, “They always said they would be there for the boys and I know they meant it, but I just didn’t think something like this counted in them being there.”
As he got on the bus, Austin waved to his father’s friends as they stood by his side in uniform, and then waved to them again through the bus window from his seat.
“I think that he was nervous, just like any other 5-year-old would be going off to school, but certainly having familiar faces around him relaxed him a little bit and made him realize that everything is going to be OK, the same way his father would have been able to comfort him, prepare him and make him ready to start his first day,” Tuozzolo said.
She continued, “They have been an unbelievable pillar of strength and support for me and they have had my back the same way my husband would in making decisions and doing right by my children. The police department has done the same exact thing, supporting me so I can be a good mom for my boys.”
Insp. Fausto Pichardo, commanding officer of the 43rd Precinct, wrote on Twitter, “This morning we continued our vow to #NeverForget Paul’s family, as we send off Austin on his 1st day of school.”