Wall Street Journal
Upd. May 3, 2015 12:58 a.m. ET


NYC Police Officer Shot in Queens

Officer in stable condition; suspect arrested after massive manhunt

By JOE JACKSON and ADAM JANOS

 
JOE JACKSON FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Police investigate the shooting of an officer in the Queens Village section of Queens in New York City on Saturday. 

NEW YORK—A New York City police officer was shot in the face through the window of his unmarked police car by a suspect he was attempting to stop in Queens early Saturday evening, authorities said.

The police officer, identified by officials as Brian Moore, age 25, was listed in stable condition at Jamaica Hospital. A suspect was arrested following a massive police manhunt.

The incident occurred around 6:15 p.m. near 104th Road and 212th Street in the Queens Village section of south Queens. According to New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton,who spoke at a news conference Saturday night at Jamaica Hospital, Officer Moore and his partner Erik Jansen, two plainclothes anticrime officers, were attempting to stop a man they had observed “walking and adjusting an object in his waistband.”

While continuing to observe the suspect, Mr. Bratton said, Officer Moore positioned the vehicle behind him, inquiring about his actions. The man immediately removed a firearm from his waistband, turned in the direction of the officers and deliberately fired several times into the vehicle, striking Officer Moore in the head, according to the commissioner. Both officers were still seated in the vehicle and didn’t have the opportunity to get out or return fire.

Michell Smith, 39, who lives on next block, said she heard three shots.

“It was one, two, three, pop, pop, pop,” she said. “Then there was a flood of officers, dogs, trucks. The response was crazy.”

Mr. Bratton said it still isn’t clear why the suspect started shooting. The weapon hasn’t yet been recovered.

After Officer Jansen called for backup, Officer Moore was taken to Jamaica Hospital in a police car, according to officials.

At the news conference Saturday night, NYPD Supervising Chief Surgeon Eli Kleinman spoke briefly about Mr. Moore’s condition.

After being brought to Jamaica Hospital, the officer “was taken immediately into the operating room,” by a team of neurosurgeons and trauma surgeons, Dr. Kleinman said. “They’re now finishing up surgery, and they’re going to do CAT scans,” he said, adding that a full assessment with this type of injury typically requires 24 to 48 hours. “We’re hopeful that we’ll have something to report at a later time.”

Mr. Bratton identified the suspect asDemetrius Blackwell, 35, who he said had a long rap sheet, including criminal possession of a weapon and robbery. Mr. Blackwell was apprehended within about 90 minutes inside 104-25 212 Place, after an extensive local search.

Mr. Bratton said Mr. Blackwell lived in the neighborhood. “Our understanding is that the suspect stays in several houses in that area.”

A father and daughter who live one block north of the incident scene came outside when they heard three gunshots.

The father, who has lived there 10 years and declined to give his name, said he saw the perpetrator fleeing.

He said he saw a black man wearing a gray hoodie and blue pants emerge from the side of the house on the southeast corner of 212th Street and 104th Avenue, and jump over the fence before fleeing east along 104 Avenue.

“He was walking fast. The pants he was wearing, they were low, he couldn’t run with [them]. He was pushing the gun down into his pants,” he said.

John Walter, 21, another resident a block away on 214th Street, said he looked out his backyard when a friend called about the shots. He saw two officers with their guns out.

“I was like, ‘Wow,’ ” he said. “They told me they were just looking for somebody and to go back inside.”

He said they searched trash bags and other areas of his yard.

Officer Moore, who lives on Long Island, Mr. Bratton said, has served on the police force since 2010 and hails from a family of law-enforcement officers—including his father, uncle and cousin. “He comes from a police family.”

Officer Jansen is 30 years old, and has been in the department since July 2011, the commissioner said. He didn't require medical care as a result of the confrontation.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at the news conference, called Officer Moore “a brave young man” and said the shooting was “an unconscionable act of violence, not just against one police officer, but against the City of New York and against the values we hold dear.”

The incident comes after a week of heightened national tension between minority communities and law-enforcement officers after a Baltimore man, Freddie Gray, died while in police custody.

Mr. Gray’s was the latest in a recent string of high-profile deaths of black men during encounters with police—including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., and Walter Scott in North Charleston, S.C.—sparking months of demonstrations nationwide.

It also marked the fifth shooting of a member of the New York Police Department since December 2014. Just before Christmas, two officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, were shot and killed in an ambush in Brooklyn. They appear to have been randomly targeted for their uniforms by suspected gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who had indicated on social media before traveling from Maryland to New York that day that he intended to kill police officers.

In January, Officers Andrew Dossi and Aliro Pellerano were both wounded in a shootout while searching for suspects in the armed robbery of a Bronx grocery store. Both officers survived.

When asked if the suspect in this shooting may have had antipolice feelings connected with the recent protests occurring in Baltimore, New York and nationwide, Mr. Bratton said there was no indication thus far.

Mr. de Blasio, who was criticized by some in the NYPD after the December shooting for failing to fully support the city’s police officers, took time at Saturday night’s news conference to praise its leadership, including Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch, who has been a particularly vocal critic of the mayor. After the December shootings, Mr. Lynch said Mr. de Blasio “had blood on his hands.”

On Saturday night, police flooded the Queens area where the incident took place, a residential neighborhood of largely two- and three-story homes with front yards. Helicopters circled overhead and several surrounding blocks were sealed off.

Soeurette Gilot, who has lived in the area for 34 years, stood outside her home taking in the barrage of police. “I’m surprised. It’s a quiet, quiet neighborhood,” she said.