Officials ID 2 Afghan attack victims as New York men

AP News
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Posted: Dec 22, 2015 8:48 PM
Officials ID 2 Afghan attack victims as New York men

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City detective who was killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan was mourned Tuesday as a selfless public servant and a devoted family man, while a second victim was identified as a Long Island man.

Detective Joseph Lemm was one of six American service members killed Monday when an attacker rammed an explosives-laden motorcycle into their patrol.

Authorities identified the other Air National Guard victim from New York state as Staff Sgt. Louis Michael Bonacasa, of Coram, Long Island.

Both were assigned to the 105th Airlift Wing at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh.

Family members say Bonacasa leaves behind a wife and 5-year-old daughter.

His brother, Vincent Bonacasa, called him a "humble man who took pride in what he did."

Authorities said Lemm and Bonacasa are the 34th and 35th members of the New York National Guard to die in combat since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They are the second and third members of the New York Air National Guard to die in combat.

Lemm, a 15-year veteran of the New York Police Department, was on his third tour of duty in the Middle East with the Air National Guard.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said Lemm "epitomized the selflessness we can only strive for: putting his country and city first."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed that flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff on Wednesday in Lemm's honor.

"On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends, fellow officers and service members," Cuomo said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said flags in the city would be at half-staff from Tuesday through Friday.

Lemm, 45, lived in suburban West Harrison with his wife, Christine, and two children, a teenage daughter and a young son.

According to a 2013 News 12 Westchester report, Lemm surprised his family after a 10-month tour of duty by showing up unannounced to hear his daughter perform in a singing contest.

Bratton said Lemm was promoted to detective in January 2014 and worked in the Bronx warrant squad.

Lemm received five commendations from the department over the course of his career.

His commanding officer, Capt. William Kivlehan, called Lemm "a heck of a cop."

"He got a lot of violent guys off the street," Kivlehan said in a conference call with reporters. "He got a lot of guns off the street."