The community came together to remember Officer Manny Ortiz Thursday night at the old Thomas Jefferson High School.
Officer Ortiz graduated from Jefferson in 1986. Jefferson Alumni come together in November every year to catch up. This year classmates are grieving. Jacqueline Griffin helped organize the memorial for alumni.
“We’re going to see people that we haven’t seen in years because of Manny,” Griffin said. “I think this is what he would want.”
On Nov. 2, Officer Ortiz, a 22-year Rochester Police veteran, was headed to work when he accidentally shot himself, hitting a major artery before crashing his SUV in Penfield. On his old stomping ground Thursday night, his classmates told stories about who he was before the badge. Friends and family also released balloons to honor him.
“I think he would love it and I also think he’d be humbled by all of it, he wasn’t one to do anything to be noticed,” classmate Marta Vargas Perez said.
Classmates like Charles Vargas and Rick Ramirez say they couldn’t help but notice Officer Ortiz’s smile and positive attitude.
“He never changed…what he was then, he was now,” Vargas said.
Organizers say this gathering a small show of love and support to a man that served until his death.
“He gave to the community and as a community we’re giving back to him…that’s why we’re here,” Ramirez said.
A public memorial service is scheduled for Nov. 8 at 11 a.m.