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How the NYPD's 97th Detective Squad answered 3 homicides in the middle of the 9/11 terror attack response efforts

02 Oct 2017 3:08 PM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

By Tom Joyce, Vigilant Solutions, an official IPSA Supporter

I can’t believe it has been more than a decade since September 11, 2001. I was a first responder that day, and I wanted to share some stories about the ancillary events of 9/11 and the detectives of the NYPD 79th Detective Squad.

Crime doesn’t stop

Like many members of the NYPD, the detectives of the NYPD 79th Pct. Detective Squad, where I was the “Whip,” responded to the events at the World Trade Center. We were critical in helping people evacuate Manhattan, getting them to modes of travel such as buses and trains (subway and commuter) in Brooklyn. During the terror attacks at the WTC and the massive evacuation, the detectives were also tasked with three unrelated homicides that same day. One case occurred the night of 9/11, when Henryk Siwiak was shot and killed while walking to work. The second case was a double murder that occurred a month earlier when a mother and her infant baby boy were stabbed to death by her husband and left behind in their apartment.

Additional homicides in NYC on 9/11

Henryk Siwiak, a Polish immigrant was heading to his first day at a new job when he found himself at the wrong subway station. Unfortunately, Henryk became the victim of a robbery shooting in which he sustained fatal injuries. He spoke no English and was most likely disoriented, as he was approximately two miles away from the Pathmark supermarket where he was due to work. Sadly, Henryk’s case didn’t get the normal crime scene response to gather information, collect evidence and memorialize the scene due to strained resources from the events that had occurred earlier in the day. Still to this day, Henryk’s case remains unsolved. However, because of the dogged determination of my former esteemed colleague Detective Mike Prate, the case was never forgotten; just like the victims at the WTC.

In addition to Henryk’s case, the squad was also tasked with investigating a double murder, which occurred in early August within the confines of the 79th Precinct. The offender was in the hospital after receiving severe injuries from being hit by a car. Due to to the skillful interview techniques of the assigned detective Chris Scandole, he was apprehended. In the middle of our response to the WTC attacks and the evacuation of NYC, I am proud to say the squad investigated this incident thoroughly; processed the arrest that night and the offender was ultimately convicted and sent to prison.

First responders’ jobs never stop

So, while NYC and the country had come to a complete stop and the world was processing the horrific events of 9/11, Bed-Stuy Brooklyn was still business as usual. From being tasked to evacuate the city to canvassing and solving homicide cases, the events of 9/11 helped every member of the NYPD who ever worked that job know they are the finest. And I am proud to say that in the midst of the chaos of 9/11, I also saw “the Greatest Detectives in the World” do what they do best – get it done.

About the Author

Tom is a retired member of the NYPD in the rank of Lieutenant Commander of Detectives. He commanded the NYPD Cold Case Squad upon his retirement and additionally held many other roles within the detective and organized crime bureaus. Prior to working with Vigilant Solutions, Tom was the Director of Law Enforcement Market Planning for LexisNexis Government Services. Tom often lectures on various subject matters relating to Homicide Investigations and has published numerous articles on criminal investigations. Tom is currently a member of the International Homicide Investigators Association’s Advisory Board.

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