NEW YORK (CBS 2) — More than 40 bullets flew in Harlem during a wild melee that left one person killed and several others wounded, including two police officers.
Sources say the gunshot that hit the bulletproof vest of one of the officers, though, was fired from a fellow cop.
The storm of bullets happened at around 3 a.m. on Lenox Avenue, between 143rd and 144th Streets. There were perhaps 500 people in the street at a barbeque when, police say, two men in their 20s got into a fight over a woman.
Police say one of the men, 23-year-old Angel Alvarez, shot and killed Luis Soto, who would have turned 22 in a couple of weeks.
“A 22-year-old male was shot and killed in a dispute with a rival, apparently in an argument over a woman,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
“That’s my son’s only son! Okay? He was my pride and joy,” the victim’s grandmother, Myrna Soto, said.
Police say that after Alvarez allegedly shot and killed Soto, he turned at fired at approaching officers. According to the police commissioner, four of the five officers then returned fire.
In the wild shooting that followed, Officer Michael Tedeschi was saved by his vest. Officer Alfredo Vargas was grazed in the hand by a bullet.
“When they let all of those shots off, and they were standing around shooting, everybody ran,” witness John Michael said.
The scene was so chaotic that police are now saying that the bullet that struck Tedeschi’s vest was fired by another officer.
Witnesses, however, tell another version of the story. Some claim that the shooting started not with Alvarez shooting Soto, but that most of the shooting came from police officers.
Commissioner Kelly said that over 40 of the shots fired did come from police, but that a .38-caliber weapon was recovered which police believe was used to kill Soto.
Alvarez’s family already has a lawyer, John Carney, who says he is bringing a witness – a friend of Alvarez – to the district attorney. The witness says police were responsible.
“They formed a circle around the guys that were fighting and stood there, and just opened up fire on the two guys,” that witness, Shariff Senter, said.
Commissioner Kelly acknowledged that what police believe happened could change as more evidence becomes available.
Three other people were also shot in the wild melee – they’re reportedly in stable condition at Harlem Hospital. Two other police officers were hurt during the altercation.