Rockland county residents gathered at mass last Sunday to honor the memory of three local heroes who gave their lives protecting the public 37 years ago. Security guard Peter Paige, and police officers Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown, were commemorated for “making the ultimate sacrifice” during the 1981 Brinks Robbery; the domestic terror attack rocked the community and resulted in the capture and arrest of the few remaining members of the radical leftwing organization “Weather Underground.”
The ceremony was held at Mountainview Avenue off of Route 59 at the site where police had pulled over the U-Haul truck the suspects used to flee the scene of the robbery. The criminals, who had stolen 1.6 million dollars and shot two security guards, emerged from the vehicle and opened fire on police. In the ensuing shootout, six heavily armed terrorists shot and killed officers Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown while also wounding Detective Arthur Keenan and Officer Brian Lennon.
Security guard Peter Paige was shot and killed in the initial robbery while his partner Joseph Trombino was badly wounded. Trombino went on to serve as a security guard for the world trade center where he survived the 1993 terrorist bombing of the building, yet tragically perished in the 2001 attack.
Retired New York Police Department Lt. Kevin Hallinan, the man who led the task force, which tracked down and apprehended the terrorists that managed to evade police custody, was the keynote speaker for the memorial. Lt. Hallinan praised the valor of security guards Peter Paige and Joseph Trombino calling the men “the first line of defense against domestic terrorism.” The lieutenant went on to describe the bravery and dedication of those officers who apprehended the criminals, telling the crowd that “valor was contagious that day,” and thanking Officers O’Grady and Brown for their “heroic sacrifice.”
Lt. Hallinan also thanked the Rockland Police for cooperating with his department during the investigation that followed the robbery and for their “collective heroism.” Thanks to their efforts, the remaining members of the “weather underground” were arrested before carrying out another planned attack and several safe houses containing illegal weapons were discovered and raided.
The ceremony concluded after members of the Paige, O’Grady, and Brown families addressed the crowd, thanking the assembled mourners for their support and sharing fond memories of their loved ones.