Steven Ercolino's family focusing on loss
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The brother of Steven Ercolino said he's helping his parents remain focused on coping with the heartbreaking loss of their son, not their outrage over the killer.
"The anger. That's all going to come out. I'm just trying to keep it together. It's sick, just a sick thing that happened. Just devastation," Paul Ercolino said on Saturday in a public park across the street from the quaint, 55-and-older apartment complex in Warwick, Orange County, where his parents have lived for the past six years.
Ercolino, 46, said he saw his parents -- Frank and Rosalie -- for the first time Saturday morning after they had returned from a trip to New York City to identify their son's body at the medical examiner's office.
He said his brother, a sales executive at Hazan Import in Manhattan, was always sure to bring his daughter, Sophia, 12, a new gift whenever he saw her.
"She always had the newest handbags."
"He was the light of everybody's life," Ercolino said. "Everybody circled around him."
He recalled a recent gathering of the entire family. They got together in a public park near the home of his sister Maria in Warwick and posed for a photo, one of the few they've taken in recent years as their growing family has spread across several states.
"We took that one picture of everybody," Ercolino, of West Nyack, Rockland County, said. "And then seeing those faces [his parents] this morning. It killed me to see those faces," he said, choking back tears. "They were so happy that everybody was together."
"We have the perfect American family, minus one now," he added.
Steven Ercolino, 41, grew up in Nanuet, Rockland County, the second of four children -- along with another brother, Peter, 40, and sister Maria, 37.
Ercolino said he doesn't remember his brother talking about any problems at work with Jeffrey Johnson, the man accused of fatally shooting Steven Ercolino outside the Empire State Building on Friday morning.
"When we were together we didn't talk about it," Ercolino said. "We talked about sports, my kids."
He broke down into sobs as he recalled dropping off his son off at college earlier in the morning.
"I just gave him the biggest hug of his life. I didn't want to let him go. We're going to be a family and we're going to be strong because my brother would have wanted it that way," he said.
"To get in the car this morning, I don't know how I got here," he said.