NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police said a fugitive who was working in a West Village smoke shop shot and wounded three officers who were trying to arrest him Monday afternoon, before the officers returned fire and killed him.
One of the officers may have been saved by his bulletproof vest, police said.
The suspect — Charles Mozdir, 32 — was being sought in the sexual assault of a 7-year-old boy in California in 2012 and possessing child pornography, police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at a Monday afternoon news conference.
The NYPD Fugitive Task Force had learned that Mozdir was working at Smoking Culture NYC at 177 W. Fourth St., and went there to arrest him around 1 p.m. Monday, Bratton said. The NYPD detective entered the location and found him apparently alone in the store, Bratton said.
The detective and the U.S. marshals — all part of the Regional Fugitive Task Force — stormed into the shop to arrest Mozdir, and he immediately fired a .32-caliber revolver at close range, Bratton said. The officer immediately returned fire, he said.
Sources told CBS 2 the NYPD officer was shot twice in the abdomen below his bulletproof vest. One of the marshals was shot in the elbow, the other in the buttocks.
The officers were all taken to Bellevue Hospital Center, and their conditions were all reported as stable. They continued to recover late Monday night. Mozdir was taken to North Shore-LIJ System Lenox Hill HealthPlex, where he was pronounced dead.
Bratton said the NYPD detective involved in the shooting may have been saved by the bulletproof vest, which was displayed at the news conference.
“Where you can see is where the round entered. The round was recovered in the vest. So obviously, the vest did save the officer from the grievous injury if that round had entered his chest,” Bratton said.
The wounded NYPD detective is 45 years old and a 25-year veteran of the department, 1010 WINS’ Derricke Dennis reported. He was being visited at the hospital Monday afternoon by his mother and fiancée when the commissioner and mayor arrived.
CBS 2 had exclusive video of the scene just moments after the shootout went down. As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, the video first shows a man in a red sweatshirt – believed to be one of the officers who were shot – get into a police car.
Nearby, a gun could be seen on the road, and an officer was seen turning around and picking it up. It was unclear whether the gun belonged to the suspect or one of the officers.
Also seen in the video was an officer who appeared to be shot checking himself over for wounds. He was eventually seen walking over to the curb with another officer and sitting down before the ambulance arrived.
At the news conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the bravery of the officers and hoped for their full recovery.
“These two marshals and the NYPD detective exhibited extraordinary bravery,” de Blasio said. “They had to deal with an incredibly difficult situation, split-second decisions, and they did what law enforcement personnel do every day. They had to put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us — and these three men did that.”
Bratton said the suspect’s weapon was recovered, and he also had 20 spare rounds in his pocket at the time of his death. Police late Monday released a photo of the gun he allegedly used.
Mohammad Emera was there when it all happened.
“Right over there, I see two cops running toward the vehicle. I guess they were shot. And then I saw a U.S. marshal shot in the elbow on the sidewalk right there,” Emera told CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider.
Other witnesses described a chaotic scene as police swarmed the area after the shooting.
“There were cars galore, officers running with their heavy vests saying ‘U.S. Task Force,’ ‘U.S. Fugitive,’ ‘U.S. Terrorism’ and then ‘U.S. Marshal’ came in,” one woman told Gainer. “I think everybody who had to be here was here.”
“Ten police cars coming and a helicopter overhead, and we just beat it out of there, because we knew it was so serious,” another woman said.
As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, passersby described a massive police presence as people evacuated.
“The next thing we saw, kids that were in camp – day camp – were running,” a woman said.
The investigation closed down roads, and crime scene detectives donned white scrubs as they scoured for evidence. People who lived and worked in the area were trying to comprehend the incident.
“Really crazy, and not very common,” a man said.
By 5 p.m., residents were allowed back into their apartments under police escort. But West Fourth Street was expected to be closed for some time Monday evening.
Mozdir was arrested in California on the sex assault and child pornography charges, but posted bail, police said. He failed to show up at a subsequent court hearing later that month and had been a fugitive since then.
Authorities said Mozdir abandoned his car in Georgia before fleeing to the East Coast, CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported.
Mozdir’s alleged victim was the young son of a couple who considered him a close friend, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.
As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, the boy’s parents talked about the incident when Mozdir was featured earlier this month on an episode of CNN’s “The Hunt,” a show about fugitives hosted by John Walsh.
“He proceeded to tell me that Charlie had touched him inappropriately, and how he did it,” the boy’s mother said on the program.
“And he tried to explain to our son that it was normal what he was doing to him, that his parents were going to be upset with him if he told them,” the boy’s father said on “The Hunt.”
“We both listened to the story, and we both wanted to make sure that we weren’t accusing one of our best friends of something so horrible,” the boy’s mother added.
U.S. marshals said Mozdir was traveling with his dog, Lucky. The Fugitive Task Force reportedly tracked his cellphone to the West Village this past weekend.
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