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Nassau Police: Suspect Shot After Aggressively Backing Up Van, Nearly Hitting Officer

(credit: CBS 2)

(credit: CBS 2)

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WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A suspect in a string of thefts on Long Island is recovering from a gunshot wound after a violent confrontation with cops in a busy shopping center parking lot.

The suspect, whose identity has not yet been released, was shot in the leg by a Nassau County Police officer around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in front of the Best Buy on Old Country Road in Westbury.

Nassau County Police spokesman Inspector Kenneth Lack told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon, the man was in a white 2007 Town & Country minivan that was parked.

1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon Reports

Police surrounded the vehicle after getting the call that it was the same van involved in multiple car break-ins around Westbury and Valley Stream.

“We saw him, we knew he was there, we attempted to prevent his escape and as we did that. He apparently realized the police were closing in on him.”

Lack said the driver struck one of the police vehicles attempting to box him in and aggressively backed up, almost striking a police officer, who had approached the minivan on foot.

At that time, Lack said “an officer fearing that his fellow officer may be run over fires a single shot, striking the subject in the leg.”

It was unclear how the officer’s bullet reached the suspect’s leg with the suspect still in the vehicle.

Lack said the door may have been open, but the circumstances are still under investigation.

The man was taken to Nassau County Medical Center, where he was expected to recover. Criminal charges were still pending.

Shoppers at the Best Buy were surprised to see a busy crime scene when they emerged from the store, but some expressed relief after hearing what had happened.

“I’m glad they caught him because the county doesn’t need people like that,” Rob Hedges said.

Witness Jerry Koznesoff walked into the Best Buy moments before the commotion escalated.

“Thank God I walked into the store and another three minutes it could’ve been me,” Koznesoff told CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider.

There were about a dozen people who weren’t able to access their cars for several hours because of the active investigation.

Nassau County Police said the suspect might have been targeting other cars when they caught him. He is recovering at Nassau County Medical Center.

Charges against him are pending.