ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Police Officer Manny Ortiz was loved by all who knew him and that love and respect will be on display Friday as the Rochester area grieves his death and honors his life.
The tribute will follow several others all over town, like the one held at Jefferson High School this evening.
Dozens of people braved the cold to honor Ortiz with a balloon release. Gathering in the schools auditorium people shared their fondest memories of him. Sometimes through tears and laughter.
His childhood friend even played Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” The song played when they first met at the school 39 years ago.
“I thought it was fitting to come full circle with how I met him how it started and now saying goodbye at the school where he used to walk the halls,” said Rat Mayliz.
Ortiz was killed in a car crash over the weekend in Penfield after accidentally shooting himself in the leg while driving. Since his death many tributes like the balloon release have been held across the greater Rochester area.
Earlier this week members from the community of the Wadsworth Square neighborhood, where Ortiz used to patrol, held a walk in his honor.
“He went out of his way you could just read his face and his big smile that he was glad that we were doing it and he would come for a couple people or a roomful he would come to get people out supporting the police and helping the community,” said Jack Darcy, President of Wadsworth Neighborhood Square Association.
On Gasberry Lane in Webster neighbors of the 22-year Rochester Police Department veteran paid tribute with a sea of blue by putting blue lights on their homes.
The family isn’t surprised by the outpour of support. His sister Nancy Ortiz-Colon says it’s just a relfelction of Manny himself.
“He was a loving person,” said Ortiz-Colon. He always wanted to make peace. He always wanted to make everybody happy.”
To honor their brother in blue several local and federal law enforcement agencies will be attending the memorial. The Gates Police Department will be providing bagpipers and the sheriff’s office of Livingston County is sending its mounted patrol. They will join the Rochester Police Department for the ceremony.
The memorial service for Officer Ortiz is being held at the Riverside Convention Center tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.
News 8 will be carrying the memorial service live online and on TV.