|Officer Marcelo A. Ona|
“Every single person in the store ran except for the cop -- he stood there and did his job," Sal Perez, owner of Nu Flavor Barber Shop on West Side Avenue, said at the time of the March 2002 incident in which two armed, masked robbers stormed his shop.
"Those men were vicious, and they had no problem shooting at people,” Perez told The Jersey Journal. “Marcelo stuck his neck out, put his life on the line for us and without him, someone definitely would have gotten killed."
Ona wounded both would-be robbers in an exchange of gunfire after the pair held a gun to the head of one of the employees at the barber shop.
For his bravery, Ona, who was off-duty at the time, received the Police Department’s Combat Cross, Medal of Honor, Lt. Stanley Przygoski Memorial Award for Bravery and the Excellent Police Service Award.
Ona entered the police academy at the age of 19, but an illness forced him to retire in 2007, said his sister, Melissa Ona.
“He really loved Jersey City and in his heart, he always wanted to help people, to be that person to help and make sure everything is going to be OK,” Ona said. “He really was just an amazing person. He was very brave, very strong, very smart. He had all the qualities we strive to achieve.”
A lifelong Jersey City resident, Marcelo Ona graduated from Our Lady of Czestochowa Grammar School in Jersey City and Marist High School in Bayonne. After retiring, Marcelo Ona obtained a degree in psychology from New Jersey City University, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude, his sister said.
Ona’s family thanked the nurses at the Jersey City Medical Center for doing all they could for Marcelo Ona.
“Marcelo was a person you were just automatically drawn to -- he was like a magnet,” said Melissa Ona. “He loved his family so much and in his last few weeks on earth, we were there.”
Ona was buried yesterday at Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City.