A line of mourners dressed in black snaked down the front steps of Worcester’s St. John’s Church, across Temple Street, and into an adjacent parking lot.
Next to the church’s doors, a woman gripped a police officer in a tight hug. Others wiped away tears.
The calling hours for Worcester Police Officer Enmanuel “Manny” Familia drew crowds of fellow officers and civilians, all honoring the ultimate sacrifice made by Familia last week.
Hailed as a hero, Familia died Friday trying to save a 14-year-old boy from drowning in the pond at Green Hill Park. Despite his efforts, Familia and the teen, Troy Love of Virginia, did not make it out of the water alive.
Familia, 38, leaves his wife of 22 years, Jennifer, and two children, 17-year-old Jayla and 13-year-old Jovan, as well as his parents.
A cruiser draped in black bunting, its blue and red lights flickering, was parked solemnly in front of the church, a reminder of the life lost. The mounted unit trotted down the street, past mourners donning black ribbons with a thin blue line. A woman quickly dropped off a basket of white flowers.
A representative from the Dominican Republic consulate arrived at the church with a folded flag in hand, an offering to thank the Familia family for the officer’s heroism.
Scott Lumenello, who said he worked with Familia many years ago at the Department Of Youth Services, recalled the officer simply as a “really good guy.” His eyes were glassy as he left the church.
Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito were among the officials who stopped to pay their respects.
A Worcester officer for five years, Familia previously worked as an officer at Clark University, at Quinsigamond Community College Police Department and in Oakham.
A funeral Mass, also at St. John’s Church, is planned for Thursday morning. About 300 motorcycle officers are expected to take part in a procession from Mercadante Funeral Home to the church, and Familia’s body will be escorted by a horse-drawn carriage.
The funeral could draw up to 10,000 mourners, city officials predicted. Calls have come in from law enforcement officials planning to attend the services from as far away as Ireland.
Around 1:30 p.m. Friday, Love was struggling in the center of the pond at Green Hill Park and two other people had gone in to try and help him. Familia and four other officers were dispatched to the park. All five rushed into the pond.
During that rescue effort, two young people were pulled from the water. But officers then realized Familia and Love were missing.
Divers brought Familia to shore at 2:28 p.m. Love was found at 3:25 p.m. Both were taken to the hospital and pronounced dead.
Familia was born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, before moving to Worcester as a young boy. In 2001, he graduated from Doherty Memorial High School in the city. He went attended Quinsigamond Community College and was most recently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Anna Maria College.
Both on- and off-duty, loved ones said he made an impact at the Worcester Police Department. He was a member of the department’s Tactical Patrol Force and Crisis Invention Team and was also a crisis negotiator and a recruitment officer. Recently, he was training to join the SWAT Team.
Outside of duty, Familia was devoted to the Worcester community. He was on the department’s basketball team and represented the department in charities.
“When Manny had time off, he remained very active serving as the basketball coach for St. Peter’s Church,” reads the obituary for the officer. “He also loved watching his son play baseball. He also enjoyed vacationing in Florida and going to the beach with his family.”
As remembrances have poured in since the weekend, Familia has been recalled for his work ethic, his love of his children and for his “contagious” laugh.
Clark University Police Chief Lauren Misale, who previously worked with Familia, said the community is heartbroken.
“Manny had a smile that lit up the room, could joke with the best of them, and his laugh was contagious. His kids were his everything. You could see in his eyes every time he brought them in to play ball or talked about them how proud he was of them,” she said.
A GoFundMe page has also been started to help pay for Love’s memorial services.
“Troy was a great young man, talked about wanting to join the military when he was able to, he loved video gaming and hanging out with his older brother,” the page reads. “His best friend was his cousin Brian.”
The heartbreak felt by the Worcester community is unfortunately all too common. In just more than 20 years, the city has suffered a dozen line of duty deaths.
The last time a Worcester police officer died in the line of duty was in 2012, a department spokesman said. Peter Kneeland died as a result of injuries he suffered in 1991 after being struck by a vehicle on duty.
The Worcester Fire Department has seen a series of losses dating back to 1999, when the “Worcester 6″ were killed in a blaze at the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. building. Since then, the department has mourned the deaths of Firefighter Jon D. Davies Sr. in 2011, Firefighter Christopher Roy in 2018, Fire Lt. John Kennedy in 2019, and Fire Lt. Jason Menard, also in 2019.
A number of roads will be closed Thursday during Familia’s funeral. Worcester police ask drivers to plan ahead.