NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Dramatic video shows a deadly shooting inside a convenience store in Queens.
It happened right in front of an off-duty police officer, who didn’t hesitate to confront an armed suspect, quickly taking him down, stopping him from hurting more people.
Tuesday afternoon, frequent customers like Jacqueline Faught stopped by Crossbay Express Smoke and Vape Shop in Ozone Park, Queens to express condolences for 26-year-old employee Mohmediyan Tarwala.
“Always had the biggest smile on his face. Came here to study and it’s just a devastating loss for the neighborhood,” Faught said.
Nothing short of Heroic.
The moment after a man shot & killed a deli worker, off-duty NYPD Officer Maharaj, with out regard for his own safety, tackled the shooter, disarmed him & held him for responding cops. pic.twitter.com/PQBmg4bKiB
— Commissioner Shea (@NYPDShea) October 27, 2020
“He would know us by name. He was a good guy,” said Mohammed Khan.
Police say around 6:15 p.m. Monday night, 63-year-old Steven Cohen, a homeless man who’d been living in his van, gunned down Tarwala inside Crossbay Express, possibly because he’d been kicked out earlier after an argument he had with the victim.
Surveillance video shows Cohen first stepped inside Beer Town across the street, asking workers to call 911 because he wasn’t feeling well.
Cohen took off before help arrived, walked into the smoke shop and opened fire, fatally shooting Tarwala in the abdomen.
Off-duty but always vigilant.
Tonight, off-duty Police Officer Maharaj from the @NYPD77Pct was in a deli in Queens when a suspect started shooting at a customer. The officer quickly sprang into action, tackled the suspect, disarmed him & held him until uniform officers arrived. pic.twitter.com/GRMxZpmbZT
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) October 27, 2020
A food vendor parked right outside heard the gunfire.
“It definitely didn’t sound like firecrackers. It was loud! It was two loud shots, and the first thing I thought was that it was two tires exploding,” he said.
Coincidentally, an off-duty NYPD officer, identified only so far as Officer Maharaj, was inside the store, witnessing it all.
“Yeah, Brooklyn police officer off duty just stops at a store. And while he’s inside he he hears a gunshot and that you know the tragedy here. Somebody lost their life. And when he when he looks he sees the individual with the gun and makes a tactical decision. Tackles the individual, gets the gun, holds on for the responding police officers. And, as I said, tragically, the individual who was shot his life could not be saved,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “But you know, awfully proud of the work of the police officer. Heroic actions, I think anyone would say, and quite dangerous. Thankfully that piece of it turned out OK, but just sad for the loss of life.”
Locals say Cohen had not been in the neighborhood long.
Police say he was arrested before for robbery in 2000 and in the ’80s for assault.
“He was walking around. He seems like a good guy. I never knew he had a gun,” one person said.
“How do homeless people get guns? It’s really… something’s got to change,” Faught said.
The NYPD tweeted out a picture which they say shows the gun in used in the shooting.
Cohen faces charges for murder and possessing a weapon.
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