PO Mark Ellis

PO Mark Ellis

Police Officer Mark J. Ellis 
Shield 11441
Transit Bureau, District 4 

Mark J. Ellis always dreamed of becoming a police officer. At age 5, he played cops and robbers with a set of plastic handcuffs and a notepad that he used to write speeding tickets.

As he grew older, it became apparent that he had developed an affinity for the straight and narrow path. As a teenager, he lectured his older sister about getting speeding tickets, rarely went to parties and never drank alcohol, because he liked to stay in control. 

By the time he joined the New York Police Department and became an officer in Transit District 4, his character was legendary.

“You couldn’t get him to do anything wrong,” said Officer Eric Semler, Officer Ellis’s partner for three years. “He might bend a rule, but he would never break a rule. It was almost to the point where it was annoying.”

But Officer Ellis, 26, who lived with his parents in Huntington Station, N.Y., did take risks. He was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed activities like boating, mountain biking and snowboarding.

Having realized his dream of becoming a police officer, Officer Ellis set new goals. He wanted to marry his longtime girlfriend, Stephanie Porzio. And he applied for jobs with the Secret Service and the F.B.I. After Officer Ellis’s death, his parents received acceptance letters from both agencies.

Missing from the WTC attack (right) NYPD officer Mark Ellis, with his fiancee, Stephanie Porzio. (photo credit / handout)

– The New York Times 3/3/2002

Just a couple of weeks before the World Trade Center attacks, an off-duty Mark Ellis was visiting another fellow police officer and his wife at their Commack home. 

He held their days-old baby girl in his arms and, moved by the tenderness of her new life, decided to put his plans in fast forward. 

Ellis, 26, told his girlfriend of six years, Stephanie Porzio, that he wanted to marry her and have a family of his own. The next week, they would go shopping for rings. 

They went to a jewelry store, but did not settle on anything because they wanted something that would properly symbolize what they felt for each other. 

“He really just had a love for me, and I had a love for him that most people don’t find,” Porzio said. 

That same Sunday, Ellis rode for the first time on the fishing boat he had purchased from his uncle. Other relatives were there, and Ellis was nervous about handling the 24-footer, but he drove it seamlessly on Long Island Sound. 

With marriage plans under sail and his law enforcement career on track, Ellis felt he was about to create the life he wanted, surrounded by his friends and relatives. 

But Ellis, a transit officer in downtown Manhattan’s fourth district and a lifelong Huntington resident, was on Delancey Street two days later with partner Ramon Suarez, when they got frantic radio calls. 

They commandeered a taxicab and arrived on time to help terrified people out of the World Trade Center buildings. Ellis’ partner was caught in a news photograph sometime before the tower crashed, helping someone to an ambulance. Ellis sacrificed his life also, in the quiet and heroic way that relatives admired about him. His body was recovered before the Christmas Eve weekend, not too far from where his partner had fallen. 

“Mark was making his plans to climb the career ladder, sail the Seven Seas on the boat, and God called him. He answered God’s call, and he answered that call while helping others,” said his uncle, Kenneth Nilsen, 40, who was among those who eulogized Ellis. 

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani attended the standing-room-only funeral Monday at the Dix Hills Evangelical Free Church, praising Ellis’ courage. Ellis, who had received four medals for excellence, is the youngest New York City police officer to have been killed in the attacks. 

Ellis’ parents, Elaine and Joseph Ellis, and a sister, Tammy Gardella of Georgia, survive him. 

In the weeks after he was missing, the call he had been waiting for came from the Secret Service, accepting him as a candidate to the elite force. Relatives saw that as a posthumous recognition to his dedication and valor. 

A 1999 criminal justice graduate from SUNY Farmingdale, Ellis graduated from the police academy in 1998. Formerly an auto mechanic, he liked cars and the outdoors. But he was also a prankster at the station house, where he often walked around shaving with his electric razor before going on duty. 

Once, to effect a funny revenge on other officers who had played a prank on him, Ellis bought glue and sealed the offenders’ lockers shut. Another day, he conspired with his partner to stick fake bullet holes on the cars of other officers. By the same token, Ellis was willing to help whenever his colleagues, friends or relatives needed him. 

“He was very fair and kind. and he was always there for me,” said Eric Semler, his partner for more than three years. ” … He was a good cop, a very good cop.” 

– New York Newsday Victim Database 12/28/2001

Police Officer Mark J. Ellis, 26, was appointed to the NYPD on December 8, 1997, and spent his entire career assigned to Transit Bureau, District 4. He and his partner, PO Ramon Suarez, were both killed while responding to the World Trade Center incident. A graduate of the State University of New York at Farmingdale, PO Ellis was an avid outdoorsman whose interests including snowboarding, fishing and bicycle riding. He is survived by his parents Elaine and Joseph; and sister Tammy.
– SPRING 3100, Commemorative Issue


Missing from the WTC attack (right) NYPD officer Mark Ellis, with his fiancee, Stephanie Porzio. (photo credit / handout)


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