No Greater Love
By Thursday morning at 10am, thousands of police officers from across the U.S. will have traveled to St. James the Apostle Catholic Church in Carmel to pay their respects to the family of John Falcone, a Poughkeepsie police officer shot and killed in the line of duty last Friday afternoon.
Falcone, 44, was a 1985 graduate of Carmel High School and resided in Marlboro in Ulster County. He died at Vassar Brothers Hospital in Poughkeepsie from a gunshot wound to the head.
An 18-year highly decorated veteran of the Poughkeepsie Police Department, Falcone was employed as a part-time officer with the Kent Police Department from 1988 to 1992 as well as serving as a police dispatcher.
The suspect was Lee Welch, 27, of Greene County, who, after allegedly shooting Falcone, then turned the gun on himself, committing suicide.
Welch is also suspected of killing his wife, Jessica, during a domestic dispute Friday, then threatening the life of his three year old daughter, Forever Welch. Police in Dutchess County credit Falcone with saving the child’s life, grabbing her and handing her to a passerby, seconds before he was mortally wounded.
Kent Police Lt. Alex DiVernieri described Falcone as a “good guy. John was an excellent worker who was liked by everyone. Our prayers and thoughts go out to his family and to our brothers in the Poughkeepsie Police Department,” he told the Courier.
A wake at the Cargain Funeral Home in Carmel Tuesday and Wednesday drew large crowds of mourners.
Funeral director Michael Meunz estimated 1,000 people paid their respects on Tuesday as they slowly passed the open casket.
One of Falcone’s classmates at Carmel High was local businessman Tom Feighery. Feighery, who owns Fiddler’s Green at the Putnam Plaza, remembered his homeroom pal as a “nice, quiet guy. He was always a gentleman who talked about fulfilling his life’s dream of becoming a police officer.”
Archbishop Timothy Dolan will preside over the funeral mass at 10am at St. James Church in Carmel. Interment will follow at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn.
On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statement: “On behalf of all New Yorkers, I offer my sincere condolences to Officer Falcone’s family and friends. We will remember him for his courage and dedication to duty and for a life tragically cut short by a senseless act of violence.”
State Senator Greg Ball attended the wake. He told the Courier: “Every time a law enforcement officer leaves the comfort of his or her home, family members never know if they will ever return. We in Albany must protect our men and women in blue whenever we can.”
Members of the Putnam Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police will be assisting the Falcone family and Poughkeepsie Police Department by organizing a reception at the Knights of Columbus Hall and the Carmel FD headquarters for the expected overflow throng of mourning police officers and emergency responders.
Last month a police officer was killed in New Jersey. His funeral was attended by 10,000 fellow cops from as far away as California, Texas, and Canada.
James O’Neill, who serves as president of the Stephen Driscoll FOP chapter named in memory of 9-11 hero Stephen Driscoll of Lake Carmel, forecast a huge turnout: “When a brother dies in the line of duty each one of us feels the pain and wants to show his or her support.”
Because of the expected large turnout, Route 52 from Route 6 to Fair Street in the county seat will be closed to traffic throughout the morning.