NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An NYPD officer shot Thursday afternoon in Washington Heights left the hospital Friday to cheers and applause.
Officer Justin Vartanian walked to his car as bagpipes played and fellow officers applauded.
Vartanian was anxious to leave the hospital, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported. When he did, he walked out hand-in-hand with his wife.
Police gathered outside Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital to applaud Vartanian. He was discharged after suffering a gunshot wound to his armpit in the shootout.
“Today we saw a bad situation turn great, where this police officer walked out hand in hand with his wife, with his mother in tears behind them – tears of joy, because they get to go home today, because that doesn’t always happen,” PBA President Pat Lynch said.
Vartanian was shot during a gun battle that took place at 187th Street and Wadsworth Avenue at around 4:30 p.m. Police were responding to a 911 call of a man firing shots into the air.
Responding officers chased the suspect into a parking lot where they traded shots. Vartanian, an anti-crime plainclothes officer, was shot in the arm. He was rushed to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said the gunman continued firing at Vartanian’s partner, with one of his bullets hitting an anti-crime officer’s front windshield – missing the driver by inches.
That officer reportedly fired three shots at the suspect, fatally striking him in the chest. That gunman was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead.
The NYPD released surveillance video showing dozens of officers charging at the armed suspect during the Manhattan gun battle.
“This afternoon provided us all with another reminder of how brave and dedicated police officers face grave threats everyday keeping the city safe,” O’Neill said.
WEB EXTRA – NYPD officials discuss the fatal police-involved shooting in Washington Heights:
Police also recovered the suspect’s gun at the scene.
“I hate to use the words ‘he was lucky,’ but man, he was lucky,” Lynch said. “You know, as a police officer, any one of us can have that one radio run that turns bad. This police officer had it. But you saw the video. You saw what he did, you saw what his partner did, the danger they were in, and you saw police officers by the dozens still run into that parking lot putting themselves at risk.”
WEB EXTRA: Officer Justin Vartanian Leaves Hospital; PBA President Pat Lynch Speaks Out
Lynch said while he was in the hospital, Vartanian was concerned about the condition of his partner and the gunman who tried to kill them.
Vartanian has a long recovery ahead but is said to be in great spirits.
He’s been with the department for 5 1/2 years.