Two New York City police officers responding to a report of a man with a gun were shot dead in the Bronx in a shootout with the man seconds after approaching him on a front porch. a building Wednesday night, police said.
One of the officers, Alejandra Jacobs, was released from Saint Barnabas Hospital on Thursday, greeted by bagpipes and applause colleagues, including the top uniformed police officer. Her partner, Robert Holmes, continued to be treated there with the man they approached, Charlie Vasquez, who was shot three times and is expected to survive, police said.
Officer Jacobs, who has been in the force for a year, was shot twice in the upper right arm and fired five rounds in return, hitting Mr. Vasquez, Dermot F. Shea, the New York Police Commissioner , said at a press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio at the hospital Wednesday night.
Officer Holmes, who has been with the police for eight years and was shot in the armpit while wrestling with the shooter, was due to stay in hospital a few more days, Commissioner Shea added on Thursday when of Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Agent Holmes was in stable condition.
Mr. Vasquez, 23, of Brooklyn, remained in hospital Thursday and had not been charged. He was in serious condition after undergoing surgery.
Police said his criminal record included nine previous arrests for offenses such as robbery, theft and, most recently in 2017, carrying a loaded firearm. The provisions of these cases were not immediately available on Thursday.
Commissioner Shea at the hospital described Vasquez as a “career criminal with far too many arrests, still on the streets of New York.” He said Mr Vasquez’s gun was reported stolen in Georgia last year.
“We are very lucky tonight,” said Commissioner Shea, adding that the officers were in good spirits. He said the shooting was captured on body camera video, but the footage was not shown.
Mr de Blasio said the officers had shown “incredible bravery” and added that there were “too many guns there”.
“This is another example of an out-of-state weapon entering our city and injuring a New Yorker,” de Blasio said. “It’s something that we have to deal with in a whole different way. “
The shooting, shortly after 8 p.m., began after a 911 call reported a man with a gun at a building on Beaumont Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx, Commissioner Shea said. The two officers approached a man who was sitting on the steps and who matched the description given to the police, Commissioner Shea said.
When Constable Holmes asked the man to take his hands out of his pockets, the man stood up, pulled out a gun and opened fire, Commissioner Shea said.
“Within seconds they are in a shootout,” he said. As Officer Jacobs was shot in the arm and retaliated five times, his partner struggled with the shooter, Commissioner Shea said.
Part of the encounter was captured on surveillance video posted to Twitter overnight, which is unclear whether Officer Holmes was shot by the gunman or his partner. The police department’s force investigation division was reviewing the incident, officials said.
The 30-second video, recorded by an aerial surveillance camera, shows officers approaching the man as he sits on a porch closed by a metal door. A scuffle ensues when Officer Holmes enters the door and grabs the man’s left arm. A white trail hisses at Officer Jacobs as she draws her gun, and she quickly fires back at the man.
She and Mr. Vasquez continue to exchange shots before he leaves the camera’s line of sight while grappling with Constable Holmes. Officer Jacobs, who remains in the frame, then fires another shot.
Malik Alsaedi, 34, manager of 7 Days & Nights Deli on 187th Street near the corner of Crotona Avenue, said he was behind the cashier’s desk around 8 p.m. when he heard gunshots .
He rushed to the door, looked down the block towards Beaumont Avenue, and saw police running towards the source of the noise.
“When I heard the gunshots, I didn’t think they were so close,” Mr Alsaedi said. “I didn’t think they were a block away. But when I got out, that’s when I realized it was something serious.
The gunfire came precisely a year after two New York City police officers were shot and wounded while responding to a report of domestic violence in Queens. Police said the assailant in the case, Rondell Goppy, ambushed the two officers with two guns and they fired back. Mr Goppy, whose guns had been seized by police the previous summer and subsequently returned to him, was killed.
It was the first of three police shootings in three months. The following month, on Christmas Eve, a Brooklyn police officer was shot and killed after responding to a domestic violence call. And in January, an officer working with the South Bronx Gun Violence Suppression Division was shot in the lower back, just below his bulletproof vest.
A police lieutenant was also shot and wounded in a fight with a man with a gun in the Bronx in July.
Police Benevolent Association president Patrick J. Lynch, who also spoke at Wednesday’s press conference, agreed with Mr. de Blasio that there were too many guns on the streets.
“But criminals are not afraid to wear them,” he said. “They’re not afraid to put it in their belt, put it in their pocket and shoot it at a policeman. This is the problem.”
Wednesday’s shooting came as the Bronx grappled with an upsurge in gun violence during the pandemic that did not slow down with the virus. There have been more shootings in the borough so far this year than there have been in any year since 1996, according to police department statistics. There have been 459 so far this year, although the frequency of shootings in the borough has been declining since August.
Oswald Feliz, a Democratic New York City Council member who represents the Bronx district where the shooting took place, said the neighborhood was plagued by gun and gang violence that showed no signs of slowing down . In an interview, he blamed the lack of economic opportunities and the severe consequences for people who are repeatedly arrested in connection with gun offenses. He noted that the region had a high poverty rate and insufficient pre-trial detention programs for those arrested pending resolution of their cases.
“You are essentially released within one day of your capture,” he said. “Your case is pending, it takes years for the case to be resolved. So you are basically on the streets to continue what you are doing for a few years before your case is resolved. “
The violence leads more and more people to carry guns for their safety despite the risk of arrest, fueling “a bad cycle of violence,” Feliz said. Several teenagers in his district who had previously been arrested for possession of firearms were shot dead, while others faced long prison terms for shootings that could have been avoided with effective deterrence, he said. -he declares.
Representative Ritchie Torres, a Democrat who represents the region, asked for prayers for the officers, writing on Twitter that New Yorkers must support mayor-elect Eric Adams “as he seeks to quell the epidemic of violence that has taken hold in the Bronx and elsewhere in the city.”
Chelsea Rose Marcius and Mike ives contributed reports.