A department in mourning
Police sergeant, father of four, dies from self-inflicted gunshot wound
by Hannington Dia
Reporter Staff Writer
Oct 29, 2017 | 1419 views | 0 0 comments | 63 63 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OFFICER
North Bergen Police Sgt. Alex Vazquez
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A North Bergen police sergeant found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a car two weeks ago died on Monday, Oct. 23, the Police Department announced. Officials have confirmed it was a suicide.

“It is with a heavy heart that we reflect on the fact that today we lost our friend, our brother, and our sergeant, Alexander Vazquez,” read a NBPD Facebook post. “There are no words that can accurately describe the sadness we are experiencing due to his loss. This tragedy has touched each of us in different ways.”

Vazquez is survived by wife Natalie and children Kayla, 11, Gabriel, 4, Logan, 2, and Alex, 1. He also leaves behind three siblings and both parents.

According to a town press release, officers found Vazquez, 32, with his injury on Durham Avenue the evening of Oct. 18. They were responding to a call of a man shot in a vehicle.

They immediately rushed him to Jersey City Medical Center, according to Police Chief Robert Dowd.

Town reacts

At the Oct. 25 Board of Commissioners meeting, which featured a moment of silence for Vazquez, town officials and police reacted to the loss, the only one for the department this year.

“This is a tragedy for the entire township,” said Dowd, before the meeting. “Alex served the department with honor and distinction. He personified everything I would want my sergeants to be. He was kind, caring, compassionate, and tough when he had to be.”

Of Vazquez’s service, Dowd said that “in most situations, he was the first person through the door. At the same token, he was always professional and someone that every co-worker genuinely liked and could relate to.”

Vazquez went to the Passaic County Police Academy in 2005 with Dowd’s brother David, a current lieutenant for the North Bergen police. In addition to being a district champion wrestler for North Bergen High School, Vazquez was also an avid Judo practitioner, taking his daughter to training classes, Dowd said.

“We have no idea why he did this,” Dowd said. “People can speculate a lot of different reasons, but the truth of the matter is, he really only knew why he did it. I just pray that he found the peace he was looking for.”

Dowd said that Hoboken, Jersey City, and Union City’s police departments sent assistance the evening Vazquez was found. “They came to our aid because our resources were stretched,” Dowd said. “Hoboken specifically, and Union City police helped patrol our streets that evening.”

“The sergeant was a North Bergen person,” said Mayor Nicholas Sacco, after the town commissioners’ meeting. “He lived in town, he was a father. None of this makes sense. There were no signs that anybody saw that he was in distress. We have no idea why he did what he did, but we lost a really good sergeant. We lost a really good man.”

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“We have no idea why he did this.” – Robert Dowd

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Tributes and help

The Union City Police Department posted a tribute on their Facebook page: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Sergeant Alex Vazquez, his family and the North Bergen Police Department. Rest in peace brother, we got it from here.”

North Bergen police and PBA Local 18 have set up a GoFundMe account to fund scholarships for Vazquez’s four children. As of press time, it had raised over $29,000, higher than its original $20,000 goal. Dowd said the account will continue collecting donations for the scholarship accounts.

“Rest in peace my friend,” reads one comment on the page, from Alex Estela. “The outpouring of love and generosity is a testament to your positive impact on this world. I will always be there for your family.”

His wake was set for Friday, Oct. 27, at the Vainieri Funeral Home in town. A funeral mass was also set for 11 a.m. the following day at Our Lady of Fatima Church, located at 8011 John F. Kennedy Blvd.

Hannington Dia can be reached at hd@hudsonreporter.com

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