An NYPD officer from Suffolk County was shot while chasing an armed suspect and exchanging gunfire that left the suspect dead.
Officer Justin Vartanian, 34, of the 34th Precinct, was struck in the right armpit around 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 18, while responding on foot to reports of gunfire by an armed man firing shots in the air, said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said in a news conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio.
A plainclothes officer, Vartanian, was responding to a call of a man firing a gun at the lot at Broadway and 187th Street in Washington Heights, according to O'Neill.
After spotting the suspect, the man then ran with a gun in his hand, and Vartanian pursued him on foot into a parking garage, the NYPD said.
There, the suspect fires 3 rounds at the police officer, striking him in the right arm. The wounded officer fires back once. At the same time, the officer’s partner drives his unmarked police car into the parking lot and exits the vehicle.
One bullet fired by the suspect goes past the officer and through the windshield of the police car, the NYPD said.
The officer then fires 3 rounds at the perpetrator, a reported member of the dealy Trinitarios gang, striking him in the chest. He was reported dead at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia hospital at 5:10 p.m., NYPD said.
O'Neill said the wounded officer was in good spirits: "The NYPD family stands ready to do all we can to assist in his full recovery," he added.
Vartanian was reported in stable condition at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital Thursday night.
“We saw today from the video we observed a very, very dangerous situation unfold, and our officers handled it with extraordinary professionalism and courage,” said Mayor de Blasio.
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