Mayor Walsh and Boston Police Commissioner William Gross on Tuesday announced the passing of 29 year veteran officer Jose Fontanez.
Fontanez passed away from COVID-19 at the age of 53 and was an officer in District E-13 in Jamaica Plain.
“First and foremost, this is a devastating blow to a family,” Walsh said. “We hold them in our prayers. This is also a very devastating blow to our city, the Boston Police Department, and the entire public safety family. We honor him and remember him as a hero.”
Walsh told residents to stay at home in memory of Officer Fontanez and “in gratitude to health care workers who are working for us the way he was.”
“He fought a valiant and courageous fight against COVID-19,” Gross said of Fontanez. He called Fontanez “a great man,” and one who “loved” Boston, his family, and the police department.
Commissioner Gross thanked the nurses and doctors at Boston Medical Center for “taking care of our brother.” He also told residents to adhere to CDC guidelines to further prevent the spread of the virus, as no one is immune.
“Again, this man was a very courageous man, but it lets you know our first responder families, we’re not robotic, we’re not immune,” Gross said. “This virus is devastating almost everyone that it touches.”
Gross said that the community has “stepped up and helped us to fight crime,” and only “one or two percent” of people are not listening to the guidelines. He warned that “they will be locked up” for not complying.
“You won’t get a COVID-19 break because while people are out here doing the right thing, helping each other out during this pandemic, there are those who try to prey upon this hardship,” he said. “It won’t be tolerated. I’m here to tell you now—thank you to the community because people are stepping up. They’re not desensitized and they are helping us put away the people that need to be put away.”
Gross also said that so far, 67 officers have tested positive for the virus, and 53 of them are still out of work. He said that anywhere where there has been a concentration of the virus, stations are not shut down but rather thoroughly cleaned to prevent further spread to officers.
“It’s tough being on the font lines as a Boston police officer, but we’re not alone,” Gross said, adding that Boston EMS, Boston Fire, and other first responders and those who provide city services are all on the front lines together.
Gross said that the Boston Police department is “adequately supplied with PPE,” but did not share specifics about the equipment on hand.
He thanked those that reached out and offered condolences to Fontanez’s family, and both he and Walsh reminded residents to follow guidelines of social distancing. Gross reminded Bostonians that those protecting the city are vulnerable to the virus, and by working together the city can prevent further spread: “we’re not expendable; we’re human too and that virus can definitely affect us.”