US Marshals Injured In West Village Shootout Released From Hospital
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Both U.S. marshals injured in a shootout with a fugitive have been released from the hospital as new details emerged Tuesday about what led authorities to find the suspected sexual predator at a West Village smoke shop.
An NYPD detective wounded in the shooting remained hospitalized late Tuesday.
On Tuesday morning, a group of officers left Bellevue Hospital Center, where an NYPD detective who was shot in the groin continues to recover.
The fugitive, 32-year-old Charles Mozdir, was killed when gunfire erupted Monday afternoon at Smoking Culture on West 4th Street.
Mozdir was being sought for allegedly molesting the 7-year-old son of close friends in California in 2012, authorities said.
A $1 million bench warrant was issued for his arrest in June 2012 after he skipped an arraignment in San Diego on child sexual assault charges, a spokesman for the San Diego County district attorney said.
Mozdir, a former wedding photographer, also had been charged with attempting to dissuade a witness from prosecution, the criminal complaint said. He posted $250,000 bail.
Police said they received a tip on Mozdir’s whereabouts after he was recognized on CNN’s “The Hunt with John Walsh” last week.
“We started getting information that he was near a smoke shop, which made sense,” said Deputy U.S. Marshal Steve Jurman. “He had a history of working in smoke shops. He had a hobby of blowing glass, which would come in handy at a smoke shop.”
Some of the information that helped marshals track Mozdir to the West Village came from a woman he had dated, CBS 2 reported.
Federal marshals in California led the hunt for Mozdir, tracking him as far east as Georgia, where he dumped his car and disappeared.
“He was definitely living (on) cash, with a good fake ID,” Jurman said. “He was off our grid for sure.”
West Village regulars said Mozdir had been working there for at least a year using the name “John Smith,” CBS 2′s Tony Aiello reported. He was often accompanied by his dog, Lucky.
“When that tip came in that said it’s definitely him and he had the dog, that was a corroborating factor that really made us focus,” Jurman said.
Investigators believe Mozdir, who grew out his hair and a beard, lived in Alphabet City, sharing an apartment with a local photographer.
Investigators tracked him by his cellphone to the smoke shop where Mozdir was working Monday afternoon. That’s when the shootout between Mozdir and the officers, all members of the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force, began.
Around 1 p.m., the detective walked into the store and found Mozdir apparently alone, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said. When the detective left and returned with the U.S. marshals, police said Mozdir pulled out a gun and opened fire.
“Mozdir fired upon the officers at very close range, and the officer returned fire,” Bratton said.
On Tuesday, forensic teams continued to collect evidence at the shooting site, and investigators began to check open sexual assault cases to see if Mozdir committed any crimes during his time in New York, Aiello reported.
CBS 2 obtained exclusive video of the scene just moments after the shootout.
The video first shows a man in a red sweatshirt, believed to be the NYPD detective who was shot, get into a police car, CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
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.
The detective was shot at least twice, in the stomach below his protective vest and in the right chest, which could have been deadly were it not stopped by the vest, Bratton said at a hospital.
“The round was recovered in the vest, so obviously the vest did save the officer,” Bratton said.
The detective’s mother, Carmen Muniz, told CBS 2′s Jessica Schneider she felt relief knowing her son survived a brush with death.
“I’m very happy that my son is alive,” she said.
Muniz said despite being wounded, she believes her son will want to get back to his job protecting New York City’s streets.
“He is into his job and no one can take that away from him,” she said.
The detective didn’t fire his weapon, but the federal agents fired multiple rounds, authorities said.
“These two marshals and the NYPD detective exhibited extraordinary bravery,” Mayor Bill 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.”
Mozdir was also taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said. A .32 caliber handgun was recovered at the scene and investigators said 20 additional rounds were found in Mozdir’s pockets.
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