‘It’s just heartbreaking’: Mourners pack calling hours for fallen sergeant in Genesee County

Friends, family remember Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello

Friends, family remember Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello

GENESEE COUNTY, N.Y. – The goodbye to a fallen sheriff’s sergeant began Friday when a large funeral procession for Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello wound its way through Batavia.

He died in the line of duty while trying to escort two people out of a casino bar at Batavia Downs. The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office says the couple violently resisted arrest.

Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello died in the line of duty in Genesee County. (Photo provided/Genesee County Sheriff’s Office)

The hearse carrying Sgt. Sanfratello made its way through the streets of Batavia to Richard C. Hall Arena at GCC, where friends, family and neighbors gathered to pay their respects. Squad cars and patrol cars from Gates to Rochester to Buffalo and surrounding areas could be seen, with law officers coming together to grieve and support one another.

Community gathers to pay respects to fallen sergeant

Community gathers to pay respects to fallen sergeant

“I worked with Tom for 27 years and I worked with the county. We negotiated contracts and labor agreements with the Sheriff’s Department and the corrections officers because he was both at one time,” said Jay Gsell, a friend of the sergeant.

Gsell says he’ll never forget the last time he spoke with his friend Tom.

“In fact i saw him two weeks ago coming out of a meeting I had at the Sheriff’s Department and he was just being Tom, as usual. He had a good sense of humor, thankfully. And also I just think, he’s part of the community,” he said.

On Sunday, Batavia Police say Sgt. Sanfratello was trying to arrest two people — Michael Elmore and Lindsey Wilcox — at the casino. Investigators say they fought the deputy, who became unconscious and later died. They’ve both been charged in connection with his death.

Sgt. Sanfratello, 54, began his career with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office in 1992 as a dispatcher. He was appointed as a deputy sheriff in 1996 and would go on to earn numerous awards for his service and dedication.

“He was just a great individual. Just an awesome individual, helping, caring. Had Easter egg hunts for the kids every year — thousands of eggs given out to the kids, I found out,” said friend Ron Cervone.

Paying respects to Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello

Paying respects to Sgt. Thomas Sanfratello

As a country patrol car mechanic, Cervone says he feels fortunate to have gotten to know Sgt. Sanfratello whenever he would bring his car by the shop. He says his thoughts are with the sergeant’s family and the community he dedicated his life to serving.

“Just pray for peace and comfort, you know. I just met Ian, his son, and he is broken-hearted losing his dad. And i told him I lost my father — its just heartbreaking, you know,” Cervone said.

“He served in our community for decades, and to have this happen at this point time it’s so tragic for not only for the family, but for the police force and everybody in this county. This is a close county, not just a city. And you’ll see that when you walk through those doors,” said Pastor Mary McDonald from the City Church of Batavia.

Sgt. Sanfratello’s funeral will also be held at GCC on Saturday morning. It starts at 11 a.m.

News10NBC will stream the funeral online here. It will also be on our Facebook and YouTube pages.

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