A former NYPD officer fatally shot himself after an FBI traffic stop in Rockland County just up the road from an elementary school on Wednesday morning, according to reports.
It is unclear why Gerard Benderoth, a former NYPD and Haverstraw officer and American Strongman, was pulled over by FBI agents, but law enforcement sources noted the 48-year-old was a close friend of Nicholas Tartaglione, according to reports.
Tartaglione, a former Briarcliff Manor police officer, has been in jail since December after the bodies of four men were found on his property in Chester, New York. Police believe the “senseless murder” of the four men were tied to drug charges lodges against Tartaglione.
OnWednesday morning, authoritieshad not yet releasedBenderoth's name.
“While conducting a law enforcement vehicle stop this morning, FBI agents and task force officers approached a man who was the only occupant of a stopped vehicle,” a spokesperson told the New York Post.“During the approach, the man drew a handgun and shot himself. He died of the self-inflicted wound.”
A longtime friendtold the North Rockland Daily Voicethat the community is "shocked.
"He was a great guy," the friend added. "Hugely popular in town."
The 370-pound Benderoth was with the NYPD for a decade until he quit in 2005. He was a responder at Ground Zero on 9/11, according to the Daily Voice, and remained there for three days.
Benderoth lifted weights competitively under the name “White Rhino” and was named the 10th-strongest bodybuilder in the country in 2008.
During an interview that year, Benderoth told comedian Mo Rocca that he ate two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinners.
“Three hundred and 60 pounds, you kinda eat what you want,” he said in another video, the Post reported. “If it ain’t nailed down, you eat it. If it’s nailed down, you rip it up with a crowbar and you eat it.”