NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — An off-duty NYPD officer has been arrested after allegedly opening fire, apparently at random, on a car stopped at a Westchester County stoplight Tuesday night.
Brendan Cronin has been charged with first-degree assault. Pelham Police Department Chief Joseph Benefico didn’t disclose Wednesday why the officer allegedly fired his weapon at least 13 times, striking a 47-year-old New Rochelle man who was a passenger in another car six times.
Benefico said Cronin was sitting in a parked car near the Hutchinson River Parkway when he suddenly began firing out the window, emptying his 9-mm Glock handgun.
The victim “heard some popping sounds, and then he told the driver that he thought he had been shot,” Benefico told reporters, including CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
“Dangerous and bizarre,” Benefico said. “We have no motive as of yet.
“We have not been able to find any link between the two persons,” he added. “We have nothing to link either party to each other — no road rage, nothing.”
A source told CBS 2 that the officer had been drinking with friends at a bar on City Island. He claims he blacked out and remembers nothing about the shooting, the source said.
Benefico said the victim was shot in the torso, arm and hands. He’s hospitalized at Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital in stable condition. Police have released his name.
“I heard ‘boom, boom, boom, boom,” Janet Gessner, who lives nearby, told Aiello. “I was in bed. I was almost asleep. Must have been 11:30, 12 o’clock, so I just simply thought at that point it was a car backfiring on Lincoln Avenue.”
Cronin was pulled over while driving with his hazard lights on, police said. The 27-year-old Yonkers resident refused to take a Breathalyzer test, authorities said.
He has been temporarily relieved of his NYPD duties, Aiello reported.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said Internal Affairs detectives are investigating.
It wasn’t clear if Cronin had an attorney. A union spokesman didn’t return a message.
Last week, a New York City police detective was arraigned on a drunken driving charge. He said he accidentally shot his partner in the wrist in their car.
Bratton said Wednesday that reports of misusing alcohol by officers were a cause for concern.
“I personally am very disturbed about the number of incidents in recent weeks that are part of a longer-term problem of inappropriate use of alcohol by members of the department,” Bratton said.
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