By Rocco Parascandola and Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News
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NEW YORK — An NYPD cop was shot in the arm by a Bronx gunman who opened fire on the officer’s unmarked vehicle early Tuesday, police said.
The officer and his partner were on patrol in uniform when they spotted two men at the corner of E. 183rd St. and Prospect Ave. in Belmont about 3 a.m.
The cops, part of the 48th Precinct’s Public Safety Team, pulled over to talk to the duo when one of them whipped out a gun and started firing, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said.
“At least one male fired six times, striking the windshield and the officer, who was in the passenger seat,” Essig said.
The wounded cop, identified as Officer Lee, and his partner returned fire.
Lee began to pursue the fleeing duo but his partner pulled him back into the vehicle and rushed him to St. Barnabas Hospital.
“Officer Lee will be going home,” Mayor Adams said at a press conference at the hospital. “Too many innocent people don’t go home after gun violence.”
A 16-year-old was arrested at the scene but it was not immediately clear if he was the one who shot at the officers. A 32-caliber pistol was recovered at the scene. Charges against the teen were pending.
“While attempting to engage two males on a corner one officer was shot in the arm, narrowly missing his vital structures,” Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. “Let me be clear: we will stop at nothing to ensure that theses subjects involved in this shooting and the people who drive violence in this city will be brought to justice.”
A few moments later three shots were fired on E. 183rd St., about 100 feet away from the first shooting scene but it’s not believed that the shots were directed toward pursuing officers, Essig said.
Cops were investigating the possibility that the second gunman was shooting at the first gunman.
Pat Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, said Officer Lee and his partner were “calm and professional” in the ensuing chaos.
“(Lee’s) partner pursued the perpetrator, recognized his partner was shot, throws him in the car, drives, transmits descriptions, notifies the hospital,” Lynch said. “If he could have when he got to the hospital he probably would have done the operation as well.”
The young man who was with the 16-year-old and a young man who fired the second round of shots are both still being sought, cops said.
Lee is the first NYPD cop to be shot this year. Ten NYPD officers were shot last year, including Officers Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera, both killed by a deranged gunman as they responded to a domestic dispute in Harlem.
The NYPD will be marking the one year anniversary of Mora and Rivera’s death this weekend.
On New Year’s Eve, lone wolf jihadist Trevor Bickford attacked two officers with a machete just outside Times Square, fracturing a rookie officer’s skull before cops shot and wounded him. Bickford is now facing federal terrorism charges.
The Public Safety Team replaced the controversial plainclothes Anti-Crime Unit, which then-Police Commissioner Dermot Shea disbanded in June 2020 after it was involved in a rash of shootings. A number of its officers were named in lawsuits or had complaints filed against them.
Officers in the team are in uniform but drive unmarked cars. The team’s main focus is to get guns off the street, Adams said.
“This officer was doing his job,” the mayor said. “(He’s) part of the important team that has been assembled to remove guns off our streets.”
The shooting and arrest, Adams said, “clearly emphasizes that too many young people have too many guns in their hands.”
“Our job is to create a pathway to stop that,” Adams said.
After a surge in violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, the city saw an 11% drop in homicides and a 17% decline in shootings last year compared with 2021.
As of Sunday,the city has seens 70 shootings this year, 14 less than by this time last year.
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