2 New York City Police Officers Are Shot in the Bronx

New York Times

Two New York City police officers patrolling a public housing complex in the Bronx were shot Thursday night by a gunman who fled into an apartment and killed himself, the police said. The officers were in stable condition and alert late Thursday.

About 8 p.m., a group of officers was in a stairwell in a building at the Melrose Houses, a public housing complex in the South Bronx, where they encountered the suspected gunman and another man drinking beer, law enforcement officials said.  

The officers asked the men for identification, and the gunman said he did not have his ID; he led two of them to an apartment and opened fire on the officers in the hallway, a senior law enforcement official said. Investigators believe the officers shot back, with one of them firing twice and another once, officials said.

Officer Patrick Espeut, 29, was hit by gunfire in the cheek, and Officer Diara E. Cruz, 24, was hit in the side of the abdomen under her ballistic vest, a senior law enforcement official said. Both officers had been with the New York Police Department for two years, starting on the same day in January 2014.

After he shot the officers, the suspect, who has been identified as Malik Chavis, 23, went into the apartment, where several people were inside. He told them, “I’m about to die; get out of the room,” the official said. He then shot himself in the head.

The other man who was with Mr. Chavis in the stairwell has been detained by the police. Three others who were at the scene were also being questioned by investigators, the authorities said. The police recovered a semiautomatic handgun and a shotgun, both in the apartment where the suspect killed himself.

On Thursday night, after scores of police officers descended on the complex and cordoned off the area, residents who said they had grown accustomed to the persistent violence in the neighborhood described a frightening scene as they heard the gunfire erupt.

Maria Patino, 55, was preparing dinner for her 87-year-old mother on the seventh floor when gunfire rang through the hallways. “I took my mother to the bathroom, because I thought the gunshots would come inside the apartment,” she said, speaking in Spanish.

“We got scared,” Ms. Patino added. “I heard the commotion, the running, and I tried to think where they were coming from, but I was too scared in the moment. It was in the building, it had to be, because it sounded too clear.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio was five miles away when the shooting occurred, delivering his State of the City address at Lehman College. He learned of it only after stepping from the stage, and rushed to the hospital.

“It’s another example of what our officers confront every single day keeping us safe, not only in the streets of New York City, but in the stairwells and hallways of our public housing developments,” Mr. de Blasio said in a news conference at the hospital.

The police commissioner, William J. Bratton, did not appear at the news conference. But in a statement posted on Twitter, the commissioner said, “Proud of my officers, hopeful for their speedy recovery, grateful for the many expressions of concern and support on their behalf.”

The shooting of the two officers, who were on a vertical patrol, comes amid the criminal trial of Officer Peter Liang, who fired his gun while on a similar patrol in a Brooklyn housing project in 2014, fatally striking Akai Gurley, an unarmed black man.

In recent days, fellow officers have testified at the trial to the dangers of vertical patrols in the tight confines of housing project hallways, stairwells and roofs.

Patrick J. Lynch, the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the largest police union in the city, echoed those concerns. “It shows the difficulty and danger of vertical patrols in our buildings,” Mr. Lynch said at the news conference on Thursday.

The shooting — coming after four other officers had been killed while on duty across the city in the past 14 months — also highlighted the risky conditions for officers at night in the 40th Precinct, a violent section of the South Bronx where large parties and dimly lit public housing courtyards and hallways can become havens for gunplay.

Last month, a police officer in the 40th Precinct was shot and wounded by a fellow officer while they were trying to break up a melee outside an illegal “jump up” party about 15 blocks south of the shooting on Thursday night. A 19-year-old man was accused of opening fire on the street, drawing a volley of shots from police officers, during which the man was struck four times and wounded and the officer was hit in the ankle.

Officials said Mr. Malik, who had more than a dozen arrests, lived elsewhere in the Bronx. He was in the building on Thursday because his girlfriend lives there.

Martin Chavis, Malik’s father, said in a telephone interview on Thursday night that he was mourning his son.

“He had a heart just like everybody else, he had a mind just like everybody else,” Mr. Chavis said. “As far as what happened or what’s going on, I don’t know. I don’t have much to say.”

Outside the building, near 156th Street, residents expressed their frustrations with the condition of the neighborhood.

Symphony Alston, 18, a high school senior, who lives on the 14th floor of the building where the shooting happened, waited outside in the cold for more than an hour, as police kept the area cordoned off. She said she understood the police response, but also found it disquieting.

“When people from the ’hood get shot they never come this quickly,” she said, shaking her head. “This happens all the time. The only thing different is that it’s a cop. They don’t care as much about our lives, I guess. It’s disturbing.”

Parrish Parker, a construction worker who had lived in the complex for six years, had already moved away. “It got too wild there,” Mr. Parker, 52, said. “This is nothing new. People get killed around here for no apparent reason. It’s just going to happen again and again.”


6 thoughts on “2 New York City Police Officers Are Shot in the Bronx

  1. I think there’s more to this than they are saying

    why would they be asking for ID when they haven’t made a traffic stop?

    you dont have to show any ID to be in your apartment complex or any other public space

    maybe the cops plan was to kill this guy for unknown reasons , unknown to us but obviously not unknown to him

    I smell BS

  2. Considering the title, I was hoping for the best possible outcome. However…

    “The officers were in stable condition and alert late Thursday.”

    Disappointed again, as usual.

  3. “He told them, “I’m about to die; get out of the room,” the official said. He then shot himself in the head.”

    This makes no sense.

      1. That’s even stupider. The best way to avoid going to jail is to keep shooting and at least kill a pig or two before they kill you (GUARANTEED at that point).

        Too much damn fluoride in that clown’s water.

        Thanks, Angel. 🙂

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