YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A police officer was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon after being shot in the face while responding to a call about a suspicious car in Yonkers.
Officer Kayla Maher, 26, is a two-year veteran and daughter of a retired New York City police sergeant.
“She rolls with the punches. She knows how to handle herself. She gets in there, and ya know, just a great, amazing person. Strong willed,” family friend Nick Molinini told CBS2’s Ali Bauman said.
Maher was greeted by throngs of police officers who applauded as she left Jacobi Hospital.
Maher hugged many of them and waved before getting into a vehicle to be driven away.
Speaking at a news conference earlier Tuesday, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said she is stable and is “remarkably in good spirits.”
“She’s a wonderful police officer, heroic in what she did, gutsy as we would expect her to be,” he said. “We know she will make a full recovery.”
The incident happened around 8 p.m. Monday near Marshall Road and Ridge Drive. Police said the officer and her partner were responding to a call in the neighborhood about a report of a suspicious vehicle occupied by two males.
“Upon arrival, the officers approached the vehicle at which time one of the males suddenly produced a firearm and fired several shots at the officers at point-blank range, striking Officer Kayla Maher in the face,” Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner said Tuesday. “The officers returned fire, striking the shooter.”
In a radio transmission from Broadcastify.com, you can hear her partner’s desperate calls for help.
“An armored truck or something to come get this officer out? She’s shot in the face, we’re right behind the suspect. We’re pinned down.”
Gardner said when backup arrived, multiple shots were fired between responding officers and the suspect.
“As many as five officers exchanged gunfire during this gun fight,” he said.
In surveillance video from the scene, officers can be seen taking defensive positions with guns drawn as they appeared to carry Maher out from the danger of flying bullets in the middle of a gun fight.
Gardner says despite the spray of bullets, one officer was able to get Maher away, 1010 WINS’ Samantha Liebman reported.
“Hero,” Gardner said of the officer. “Pulled her from the scene in the middle of the gun battle and we’re very proud of him.”
In cellphone video, you can hear the officers shout then a barrage of bullets, CBS2’s Magdalena Doris reported. Nearby residents described the scene.
“Rapid fire, a lot of them, over 20, 30 maybe,” said neighbor Tina D’Amato. “Within two of three minutes, a whole host of police officers were here.”
“One behind the other like six shots, ‘boom, boom, boom, boom, boom’ at the same time,” said neighbor Armando Moreno.
Both suspects were taken into custody. The one with the gunshot wound was transported to the hospital in serious but stable condition.
The suspected shooter was identified as 18-year-old Frank Valencia of New Rochelle, who is currently on probation after being caught with a gun and 300 rounds of ammunition in the Bronx in May, CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported.
Maher was also taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the jaw, police said.
“The bravery and courage displayed by our officers last night is nothing short of heroic and I’m very, very proud of them,” Gardner said.
Yonkers police say investigators recovered a gun at the scene.
“I’d love to know what those two guys were up to and why they felt it was necessary to start shooting at the cops,” said neighbor John Wallen.
Both suspects were arrested. Valencia remains in the hospital with bullet wounds of his own. They are expected to be charged with attempted murder.