Family, friends and numerous law enforcement officers celebrated the life of a fellow officer at a large reception, which included ice cream, at Williams Brice Stadium Wednesday.
The reception immediately followed a mass at St. Peter’s Catholic Church for Vincent “Vinny” Michael Bocchino Jr., 29, the Emergency Management Coordinator for the University of South Carolina Division of Law Enforcement and Safety who died Sunday.
“As our Emergency Management Coordinator, Vinny worked with all first responders in the Midlands,” Eric Grabski, a captain with the University of South Carolina Division of Law Enforcement and Safety, said.
Grabski said Bocchino developed a special relationship with all of the first responders he worked with.
“In addition to all of Bocchino’s family and friends, the University of South Carolina Division of Law Enforcement and Safety, Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, Richland County EMS, Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Columbia Fire Department, Columbia Police Department, State Law Enforcement Division, U.S. Secret Service, and others were at both the service and reception,” Grabski said.
In his role as Emergency Management Coordinator, Grabski said Bocchino was responsible for security at Williams Brice Stadium on game days, which is why the reception was held there today.
“The family wanted everyone to go to the stadium for the reception,” Grabski said. “We had a salute with a color guard, and we ate and we had ice cream.”
Grabski said Bocchino had mentioned to his family that he would want everyone to enjoy ice cream in the event of his passing, so they honored that.
The stream of cars headed from St. Peter's to the stadium blocked traffic in downtown Columbia around lunchtime. Bur folks who knew why weren't bothered.
“Vinny was admired and respected by all who met him, he had many friends,” Grabski said. “I think today was a celebration meant to honor Vinny’s family and Vinny as a person and as a police officer.”