NOPD marks 40th anniversary of tragic week - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

NOPD marks 40th anniversary of tragic week


New Orleans, La. - It was a somber scene at NOPD Headquarters Monday afternoon as members of the New Orleans Police Department gathered to remember lives lost during a tragic week in the city's history.

"40 years is a long time," said NOPD Supt. Ronal Serpas. "But for these families and our community, the pain is still as new as if it was yesterday."

A week of terror began New Year's Eve 1972.  23-year-old Mark Essex shot NOPD Sergeant Edwin Hosli, Sr. and Cadet Alfred Harrell, Jr.  Neither of them survived.

Glenna Burgess is Harrell's mother. "It was just like a thief came through the night and took him away," she said.

Essex would take more lives days later.  On January 7 at the Downtown Howard Johnson Hotel, Essex carried out another attack that killed three more officers and four civilians.

Those killed that day were Deputy Superintendent Louis Sirgo, Officer Philip Coleman, Officer Paul Persigo, Dr. Robert Steagall, Elizabeth Steagall, Frank E. Schneider and Walter Collins.

"It reminds us that everyday the men and women of the fire department, police department, emergency services put themselves in harm's way.  And every day may be the day where you are called to make the ultimate sacrifice, and unfortunately that happens too much," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu during the Monday afternoon ceremony.

"So today we pause to remember our fallen heroes and those who were injured," added Chief Serpas. "I also encourage the people of New Orleans to appreciate the men and women who are part and members of the New Orleans Police Department, our fire department, our emergency medical services."

Stephen Harrell is among that group. The youngest brother of slain Cadet Alfred Harrell was nine years old when his brother was killed.  40 years later, he's a 25-year veteran of the NOPD.

"This is sort of a tribute to him, why I became a police officer," said Harrell. "I wanted to carry that on for him. This was something that was in my years ago and I just wanted to finish his tour of duty."

Another surviving family member was also there.  He too is a member of the New Orleans Police Department. Commander Edwin Hosli's father was killed in that 1972 New Year's eve attack.

As for Mark Essex, he also died on January 7, 1973.  He was killed on the roof of the Howard Johnson by a sharpshooter as he fired upon a Marine helicopter.

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