Melrose Park coronavirus: Officer Joseph Cappello dies from COVID-19

ByLiz Nagy and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Saturday, April 25, 2020
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Melrose Park police announced one of their officers died from complications from COVID-19 Friday, the department's first coronavirus death.

MELROSE PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- Melrose Park police announced one of their officers has died from complications from COVID-19, the department's first coronavirus death.

Joseph Cappello, 55, died Friday, the Melrose Park Police Department spokesman said.

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"Office Cappello was an important part of the Melrose Park Police Department and he will be missed," the statement said. "Always dependable and trustworthy, Officer Cappello; worked hard to build relationships in the community. He served the people of Melrose Park with integrity and will be remembered as a dedicated public servant."

Cappello was also a retired Cook County deputy.

The Cook County Sheriff's Office released a statement, saying, "We are saddened to learn about the passing of Melrose Park Police Officer Joseph Cappello. Officer Capello was formerly Deputy Cappello, who joined the Cook County Sheriff's Office in 1989. He served as a court services deputy and worked in the evictions unit when he retired in 2016. Our hearts go out to his family, loved ones, and his former colleagues in this difficult time."

A parade of squad cars memorialized his life of service Friday night.

"It's a terrible time. We're trying to do whatever we can," said Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico.

It's hard to say for certain if Cappello caught COVID-19 patrolling the streets of Melrose Park, but friends said he fell ill weeks ago and fought a brutal battle against the virus from a hospital bed.

"He had a rough period of time in the ICU, started making a comeback. He got out and then for some reason he succumbed to it," Serpico said.

Avoiding the highly contagious virus is a daily battle for first responders.

"I know at the police station, before someone goes into work they get checked o see if they have a fever," the mayor said. "They wipe off their shoes, do everything, sanitize."

Cappello had law enforcement in his blood.

"He came from a law enforcement family," Serpico said. "His dad is a retired Chicago policeman. His son Joe is a Chicago policeman."

His former and current colleagues honored Cappello with a procession past his family's home, but without public gatherings allowed his funeral will have to remain private.

Cappello is the department's first COVID-19 related death. Three Chicago Police Department officers have died from the virus.