NEW YORK (TheBlaze/AP) — A plainclothes New York City police officer riding in an unmarked car was shot and critically wounded Saturday by a man he and other officers were pursuing after suspecting him of carrying a gun, a police spokeswoman said.
The on-duty officer was taken to a hospital in critical but stable condition, Deputy Chief Kim Royster said. The suspected shooter was arrested hours after police flooded the scene in a section of Queens that neighbors described as quiet and safe.
The officers pulled their car up to the man because his clothing appeared to show a dip in his waistband suggestive of carrying a handgun, Royster said, cautioning that the account was preliminary based on an ongoing investigation. The suspect then fired at least two rounds into the car.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton were at the hospital, City Hall officials said. The officer's family was with him at the hospital, Bratton tweeted.
At a press conference Saturday night, Bratton said officer Brian Moore was shot in the cheek, WPIX-TV reported. Moore was in surgery around 9 p.m., police added.
Hours after the 6:15 p.m. shooting, police officers who had flooded the area were beginning to clear. At one point, teams of officers could be seen walking on roofs, searching house-by-house and peering into backyards and under cars with flashlights as a search for suspects was underway.
“He lived on the block where the shooting was,” a law enforcement official told the New York Times of the suspect. “They found him hiding in a house that was not his own. He ran through the rear yards.”
The official, who spoke to the Times on the condition of anonymity because the shooting is still being investigated, added that the bullet apparently entered the officer's left cheek and exited on the right side of his head toward the back of his head.
Neighbors near the scene of the shooting were surprised by the violence and described the area as quiet and safe.
"You walk down the street, no trouble," said Sandreaus Adam, 52. "This is not a neighborhood where you're just going to hear shots."
The shooting, the fifth of an on-duty police officer in as many months in New York, evoked memories of the December ambush of two officers in Brooklyn. But Saturday's shooting appeared to show signs that the circumstances were different.
Officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, were in uniform and sitting in a marked police car when they were shot at close range on Dec. 20. The suspect, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, then ran into a nearby subway station and fatally shot himself.
Before the shooting, Brinsley had posted on an Instagram account that he was planning to shoot two "pigs" in retaliation for the death of Eric Garner in a police chokehold.
In another incident on Jan. 5, two plainclothes officers who were part of an anti-crime unit in the Bronx were shot and wounded. Each officer survived two gunshot wounds.
Associated Press write Tom Hays contributed to this report.
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