At a press conference late Saturday night, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea called the shooting “an assassination attempt at two New York City police officers.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio echoed his words.
“I want New Yorkers to be clear, this was an attempt to assassinate police officers. Out in the open, an individual walked up to a police van with the intention of killing police officers. This is absolutely unacceptable in this city or any place. In this country, anywhere in this world,” de Blasio said.
Shea says the two officers were assigned to a drug-prone area in the Longwood section near East 163rd Street and Barretto Avenue.
Just before 8:30 p.m., a man approached the officers in the van and engaged them in conversation. Shea says it’s believed he was asking for directions.
The @nypd is asking for the public’s assistance identifying the male depicted in these photos for questioning in regard to the shooting of a NYPD Police Officer in the area of Simpson Street and Barreto Street in the Bronx. pic.twitter.com/HeI5fOovfO
— Chief Rodney Harrison (@NYPDDetectives) February 9, 2020
The man then allegedly pulled out a gun. Shea says the officer who was driving the van yelled “Gun!” then tried to put the van into drive and pull away.
The perpetrator allegedly fired multiple shots at close proximity into the van.
At least one, possibly two, shots struck the officer who was driving. He was struck once in the chin and once in the neck.
“It is a miracle that we are not here under worse circumstances,” Shea said.
Neither officer returned fire.
The injured officer was taken to a local hospital and is expected to be OK. It’s possible he could return home Sunday, Shea said.
“This once again shows how dangerous these streets can be for New York City police officers,” PBA President Pat Lynch said. “Don’t take lightly the words ‘an attempted assassination.’ An attempted assassination because they were in a marked van with their turret lights going in a New York City police officer’s uniform. We cannot allow this to happen.”
The investigation is ongoing, and the suspect is not yet in custody.
Anyone who has information regarding this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-8477 or for Spanish, 1-888-577-4782. Tips can also be sent to the NYPDTips Twitter account or submitted online at NYPDCrimeStoppers.com.