April 7, 2014

2 officers critical after Brooklyn fire; suspect in custody


 (Credit: Anthony Lanzilote)  
Firefighters respond to a blaze at 2007 Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn where two NYPD officers were injured in a fire on Sunday, April 6, 2014.    

Two NYPD officers remained in critical condition Monday, a day after being overcome by smoke at the scene of a high-rise fire in Coney Island, a police spokesman said.

Police also said a suspect being questioned in connection with the fire remained in custody early Monday. The suspect had not been charged in the case.

No other information was immediately available.

The officers, Rosa Rodriguez, 36, and Dennis Guerra, 38, both of Queens, were found Sunday afternoon in an elevator on the 13th floor, where the fire started in the 18-story city Housing Authority building on Surf Avenue.

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said the officers, who were assigned to the housing bureau, were "overcome by smoke and suffered carbon monoxide poisoning," and are being treated in intensive care units.

"Our understanding is they were up in the elevator . . . and then once the door was opened, they were overcome by the smoke," said Bratton, who spoke at a news conference outside Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, where Guerra was taken.

Rodriguez was being treated at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan.

The fire, which Bratton described as "suspicious," is under "active investigation," he said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the families of both officers at the hospitals. "I can say this on behalf of all New Yorkers: Our hearts go out to these families and we stand by them," de Blasio said at the news conference.

Both officers are assigned to the NYPD housing bureau. Guerra is the son of a retired NYPD officer, who was at the hospital, and has four children, according to the NYPD. He's been with the force for seven years. Guerra was first taken to Coney Island Hospital and was then airlifted to Jacobi.

Rodriguez has worked for the NYPD for three years and also has four children.

Bratton said Rodriguez's attending physicians said she has "significant smoke inhalation issues. . . . She's still in critical condition, but there's a real expectation that she will be able to move forward, but it's going to be a lengthy recovery going forward."

PBA president Pat Lynch, who was also at the news conference, thanked the first responders who assisted the officers and got them to the hospital quickly.

"They treated our brother and sister as if they were their brother and sister," he said, adding, "Today is another sobering reminder of the danger that faces all our first responders and the men and women of the NYPD."

Firefighters reported the blaze under control at 1:20 p.m., an FDNY spokeswoman said.

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries as did two civilians, one of whom refused medical attention, the FDNY said.

With Emily Ngo, Dan Rivoli and Pete Catapano