An active duty, decorated Boston police officer has died from COVID-19 complications, the department announced Tuesday.
Officer Jose Fontanez, 53, died at Boston Medical Center after battling the coronavirus, Mayor Marty Walsh said.
A Boston resident, Fontanez was a 29-year department veteran who spent the majority of his career serving District E-13 in Jamaica Plain, Walsh said. He is survived by his wife, four children, one grandchild, and his siblings.
“First and foremost, this is a devastating blow to a family. We hold them in our prayers,” the mayor said during a press conference. “This is also a devastating blow to our city, to the Boston Police Department, and the entire public safety family. We lost a hero today to this virus.”
This is a devastating blow to his family and a blow to our city. As a police officer, he served our community and stood in harm’s way to protect us. Today we lost a hero.
— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) April 14, 2020
So far, 67 officers and nine civilians in the department have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to officials. A number of officers have willingly, on their own, returned to work after recovering, while 53 others remain out, Police Commissioner William Gross said.
— Boston Police Dept. (@bostonpolice) April 14, 2020
Gross and Walsh said they spoke to Fontanez’s wife and brother Tuesday.
Gross thanked local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies for the outpouring of support following Fontanez’s death, as well as the doctors and nurses at Boston Medical Center.
Fontanez “fought a valiant and courageous fight against COVID-19,” Gross said.
“Let me tell you, folks: This is a great man,” he said. “(He) loved this city, of course loved his family, and loved his family of blue and served them well.
Asked about Fontanez’s death as the news first broke Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker said his heart went out to his family and especially those in uniform.
“I say all the time, especially about folks in law enforcement, that they open doors every day where they don’t know what’s going to be on the other side. They walk up to a car on the side of a road and have no idea what’s going to happen then,” Baker told reporters. “The complexity associated with the presence of a virus like COVID-19 just amps up in a significant way almost everything associated with the work that they do.”
Both Gross and Walsh urged the public to continue to stay at home and follow public health protocols to help protect essential and public safety workers on the job.
“Our first responder families: We’re are not robotic. We’re not immune,” Gross said. “This virus is devastating to almost everyone that it touches.”