A steady stream of police officers, family, friends and others gathered in Northeast Baltimore yesterday to remember a slain Baltimore City police officer.
One after another, men and women - many who worked the streets of Baltimore as law enforcement officers with Adam Vazquez - emerged from the viewing at Ruck Funeral Home fighting to hold back tears.
"I'm very sad, like the rest of the people here today," said Baltimore Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm. "But we're also hopeful that we will band together and help the family get through this."
Vazquez, 26, and another officer, Leslie A. Holliday, 34, were killed Wednesday in Vazquez's Pikesville townhouse. Baltimore County police have charged Eugene Victor Perry Jr. - a state Department of General Services officer who police say was Holliday's ex-fiance - in the killings.
Vazquez and Holliday worked together during the midnight shift at the Northwest District station and had begun to date recently, according to police and Holliday's mother.
The commissioner said the officers' supervisors said both were excellent officers.
"They would have had outstanding careers," Hamm said.
Sgt. Don Gerkin was a patrol officer working on the Northwest District midnight shift that Vazquez joined once he graduated from the police academy.
"Adam always made me laugh," said Gerkin, who plans to attend Vazquez's funeral in New York later this week. "He was a great kid."
Vazquez's supervising officer, Lt. David Rosenblatt, described Vazquez as a quiet man with an excellent understanding of his role in law enforcement.
"It's a shame," said Rosenblatt, who has served since March as the supervisor in charge of the shift Vasquez and Holliday worked. "He served his city well. He will be missed."
Vasquez worked a challenging area of the city's Northwest district, Rosenblatt said. During his shift, Vasquez would patrol the neighborhoods from the Park Heights corridor to Reisterstown Road on foot or in a car.
"It's primarily 911 response," Rosenblatt said of Vazquez's job duties. "You're stopping someone from breaking into businesses, beating their wives and slinging drugs. There's very few people who want to do this job - especially the midnight shift. You basically have the police and the bad guys. You've got to choose to do this work. You don't do it for the money."
Rosenblatt said he also was stunned by Holliday's death. Holliday had been with the department for about 1 1/2 years and had been working her patrol shift for eight months. She was nearing the end of her probationary period.
"Leslie ... wow, she was brand new," Rosenblatt said. "She was always smiling. She would do anything for you."
Holliday lived in her mother's Joppa home with her three children.
A viewing for Holliday will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at William C. Brown Community Funeral Home, 321 S. Philadelphia Blvd. in Aberdeen.
Funeral services are set for 11 a.m. Thursday at the Church of the Resurrection (Episcopal), at Bridge and Anchor Drives in Joppatowne.
For Vazquez, a funeral Mass will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Vazquez's hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. Hamm said the police department will send a contingent to New York for the Mass.