2005_12_echautegai.jpgThe killing of police officer Daniel Enchautegui (left)continues to be investigated, as the two suspects, Daniel Armento and Lillo Brancato, were charged with second degree murder. Police now believe that Armento, 48 years old, and Brancato, 29 years old, were searching for Valium when they broke into a Bronx home. Enchautegui, who was off-duty and at home next door, had heard the break-in. Police believe that Echautegui identified himself as a police officer, but was still shot by Armento; though wounded, Echautegui managed to shoot both men. Armento and Brancato had started the night at a Bronx strip club, Crazy Horse, but went on the prowl for drugs. They broke into a house where they had previously purchased Valium; the Post reports that Armento was too fat to squeeze through a window, so Brancato had to go in. What they didn't know was that the owner had died and the house was empty. The two men are recovering at Jacobi Hospital, with the police and DA's office waiting to take them into custody.

2005_12_lillo.jpgBy now, people realize that Brancato was also an actor who played tough guys. His first starring role was in A Bronx Tale, the Chazz Palminteri-written, Robert DeNiro-directed movie about a boy who must choose between his father and a crime boss; Palminteri and DeNiro both expressed their condolences to the officer's family and the NYPD. Then he played a would-be mobster on the Sopranos, as well as other crime figures in small roles on other shows. But his drug problems seemed to rule him lately. On the other hand, the slain police officer was remembered as being very thoughtful and very calm, and had worked his way through John Jay's School of Criminal Justice by working as a security guard. He had been a police officer for three years.

The widow of police officer Dillon Stewart, who was killed two weeks ago, expressed her condolences to Enchautegui's family. A wake for Echautegui will be held today and tomorrow, with the funeral set for Wednesday; details here. And the Daily News asks for Albany to take a tougher stand against criminals who assault police officers.