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
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
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.
- 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
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
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
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
A 1999 criminal justice graduate from SUNY
Farmingdale, Ellis graduated from the police academy in
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
"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
- New York Newsday Victim Database
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