Judge who ran down WTC hostage-taker with flagpole dies at 89 (PHOTOS)
The pictures tell a story of a life lived fully.
A family man. A decorated Navy veteran. A runner. The father of a priest and an NYPD officer. A husband of more than half a century who still looked at his wife with loving eyes.
What you wouldn't know, looking through the dozens and dozens of photos that recall Judge Louis R. Jerome's life, was he'd become a hero to four hostages and countless others after a standoff at the World Trade Center in 1978. The judge died Friday in Staten Island University Hospital at age 89.
As the Associated Press reported at the time:
Louis Jerome figured he'd 'had enough,' so he picked up a flagpole, rushed an unemployed machinist who threatened to blow up a World Trade Center office with what he said was 80 pounds of dynamite and ended harrowing nine-hour siege.
Jerome's action disarmed Lidslaw Fraczek, who'd tried to barricade himself and four hostages in the office. Fraczek, a Polish-speaking immigrant, had gone to the compensation board office on the WTV's 36th floor seeking money after losing fingers in an industrial accident, the AP reported at the time.
Fraczek didn't have the dynamite he claimed to posess — police later said his canvas bag contained only a Polish flag, a Polish-language Bible, a bread knife, four loves of bread and an empty soft drink can Fraczek had engraved with patriotic messages.
But his threats caused the evacuation of about 4,000 people from 17 floors of the World Trade Center. When Jerome took action, Fraczek had just gone to the door to tell police to bring a priest to give final absolution to the hostages.
The AP reported at the time one of the hostages made his way out the door. Jerome accused Fraczek of not really having a bomb, and then began his charge with a New York State flagpole.
One of his sons, Steven, remembered him Friday as "the best father & friend a son could ever have."
Jerome was born in 1926 in Hoboken, and drafted into the U.S. Navy as he graduated from William L. Dickinson High School in Jersey City, according to the Staten Island Advance.
After two years of service during World War II, he earned a Naval Unit Commendation, a Philippine Liberation Ribbon, an Asiatic Pacific Medal, a Victory Medal and an American Theater Medal, the report said.
According to his obituary, he leaves behind his wife Phyllis, whom he married in 1958, as well as daughter Regina Pagnotta, son the Rev. Louis R. Jerome Jr., son Thomas J. and son Steven H. Jerome, a lieutenant with the New York Police Department, among others. Funeral services are later this week.