A police department in a New York suburb is in mourning after a beloved Lebanese American police officer died unexpectedly, officials said.
Officer Fadi Rafeh, a member of the Suffolk County Police Department, died while off-duty on Jan. 20. His cause of death has not yet been determined.
According to the department, the 38-year-old officer was sworn into the academy in 2010. He most recently served as an investigator in the department’s Crime Section.
“The untimely passing of Police Officer Fadi Rafeh is an unbelievably tragic loss to his young family and an incredible loss to our police family,” said Police Chief Stuart Cameron. “(Rafeh) exemplified the diversity that makes our department great, having been born of Lebanese immigrants and serving as an Arabic translator for our department.”
Rafeh is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and two sons, Nicholas, 5, and Benjamin, 3, the chief added. A GoFundMe page set up to support Rafeh’s sons has already raised more than $100,000.
“He was a very bright, hard-working individual,” said Lt. Joseph Terry. “He worked well with his peers and everybody respected him.”
Police Officer Patrick Ryan said Rafeh was so well-regarded by his friends and colleagues, that in November, when a group from the precinct planned a football trip to Charlotte, North Carolina and they found out Rafeh could not go, they all instantly changed their trip to another weekend so he could attend.
“We changed our plans because he is the type of guy that can walk into a room and just bring the energy,” Ryan said. “He was a great guy all around. I have only known him here but I already feel like he was a little brother to me. He was just a very intelligent guy.”
A funeral service was held Jan. 28 in Suffolk County, New York.