NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A New York City police officer was released from Jamaica Hospital Friday afternoon, while police questioned two people of interest in the shooting that left him wounded in a Brooklyn public housing development.
Officer Jamil Sarwar, 30, said he felt good and was happy to be alive as he was released. He took a bullet to the thigh on his one-year anniversary with the force, having joined the NYPD on July 4, 2012.
“I’m just happy to be alive,” Sarwar said as he left the hospital.
Doctors said Sarwar should make a full recovery, CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
Meanwhile, a citizens’ group announced a $10,000 reward Friday for information leading to the arrest of the gunman. While two people of interest were being questioned, no one had been charged as of Friday afternoon.
As CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported, the incident happened just before 11 p.m. Thursday in the Cypress Hills Houses public housing development in East New York. Officers spent much of Friday blanketing the area in search of the gunman and anyone else involved in the shooting.
“As soon as the temperature rises, so does the gun violence,” said community activist Tony Herbert.
Officers swarmed the building at 1200 Sutter Ave. when they received the horrifying call of a man down – shot while on patrol.
“You could hear lots of screams, gunfire,” resident Lionel Manigault told CBS 2’s Burrell.
Investigators said rookie Officer Sarwar and his partner, who were stationed in a TerraHawk vehicle in front of the building, responded to a call of shots fired in the housing complex when they heard a hail of gunfire and ran for cover.
“Now, they get in front of 365 Fountain Ave., which is inside the housing complex, when they hear additional shots fired,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. “They go into 365 Fountain to take cover. When they’re inside, they realize that Officer Sarwar has been shot in the right thigh.”
Sarwar was rushed to Jamaica Hospital, with the bullet still lodged in his thigh.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with Sarwar at the hospital Friday morning, several hours before he was released. The mayor noted in a statement that Sarwar is part of the “incredibly successful” Operation Impact program that has helped drive down crime.
“Anytime one of our police officers is shot, it is a painful reminder that our success in fighting crime is fragile,” Bloomberg said in the statement. “Last year, 12 members of the police department were shot, and this is the sixth officer shot this year. We are fortunate that we have not had a fatal shooting since Detective Peter Figoski was killed in December 2011 in the same East New York neighborhood.”
He said the shooting serves as a reminder that action needs to be taken to keep illegal guns off the streets.
Reports had surfaced earlier Friday that a sniper on one of the rooftops of the public housing buildings might have been behind the shooting, but police later said the reports were false and the source of the bullet is not known.
Police said they recovered bullet shell casings from the roof of the building, but it wasn’t immediately clear if the shots that hit the officer were fired from the roof, or whether he was the intended target.
Two men considered persons of interest were taken into custody and were being questioned. One is a 17-year-old who has a history of arrests for robbery, drugs, gun possession, assault and marijuana. The second is a 26-year-old man with a prior marijuana arrest, Burrell reported.
Police said both men were blaming each other for the shooting, which ruined a peaceful Fourth of July holiday for residents of the housing complex, neighbors told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.
“There was a lot children. Everybody was having a good time,” a man said. “Next thing I know, fireworks and gunshots at the same time.”
And as police blanketed the neighborhood looking for the triggerman Friday, residents have grown more and more frustrated with the pattern of dangerous and even deadly violence.
“I’m tired of it!” one resident said. “Enough is enough right now!”
“The minute our cops are not on the streets, we might as well pack our bags up and move out,” added activist Herbert, “because there will be no security in our communities.”
The fact that the shooting happened on the Fourth of July was most disheartening, residents said.
“Yesterday was about freedom and liberty, and our freedom has been taken away,” said Darma Diziaz of the 75th Precinct Community Council.
The police were urging any witnesses to the shooting to come forward, Burrell reported.
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