A veteran NYPD officer fatally shot in the Bronx early Sunday morning was locked in a violent struggle with a suspect he was attempting to arrest and yelled "he's reaching for it" before the officer was felled by three bullets, police said.
Officer Brian Mulkeen, 33, assigned to the 48th Precinct, was rushed to NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi, where he died shortly after the 12:30 a.m. shooting, police said.
"We lost a hero — by every measure," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said early Sunday morning at a hospital news conference. "He gave his life for all of us."
Also shot and killed in the gunfire was the suspect, who police identified as Antonio Williams, 27, of Walnut Street in Binghamton.
The shooting, captured on police body cameras, remains under investigation, said NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan.
Mulkeen, who was a 6½-year department veteran and member of the Bronx Borough Anti-Crime Unit, was patrolling near the back of the Edenwald Houses, a massive public housing development at 1132 E. 229th St., when the shooting occurred, said Monahan.
Officers from the Bronx Borough Anti-Crime Unit were patrolling the area in response to gang activity and "numerous shootings" in the area, Monahan said. Williams "looked suspicious," ran from three officers who exited their vehicle to question him and reached into his waist, Monahan said.
The officers, now including Mulkeen and his partner, chased him down and tried to arrest him. Mulkeen, during "a violent struggle on the ground" with the suspect, was heard on the body camera footage yelling, "He's reaching for it, he's reaching for it," Monahan said.
As the struggle ensued, several shots were fired and Mulkeen was hit three times, Monahan said. Five officers, some of whom arrived after the chase began, also fired their service weapons, striking the suspect.
Williams, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was on probation until 2022 for a narcotics-related arrest last year and has several prior arrests, including a burglary conviction in Rockland County, Monahan said.
"Brian was a great cop dedicated to keeping this city safe," Monahan said during the hospital news conference, noting that Mulkeen arrested a man on gun-possession charges the night before. "As we stand here this morning, a young man with a bright future who courageously patrolled some of New York City's toughest streets has tragically lost his life."
Mulkeen lived in Yorktown Heights in Westchester County with his girlfriend, who is an NYPD officer in another Bronx precinct, according to Monahan.
Although a .32-caliber revolver was recovered from the suspect at the scene, it was not immediately clear whose weapon shot Mulkeen, an NYPD spokesman said.
"At this point, it does not appear that the perpetrator's gun is the one that fired," Monahan said while speaking to reporters. "Officer Mulkeen's gun fired five times. At this point, we are not sure who fired Officer Mulkeen's gun."
Dozens of officers lined up outside the hospital before sunrise Sunday to pay tribute to the fallen cop as an emergency services vehicle, its lights flashing, left the facility with his body inside.
Mulkeen is the second NYPD officer to die in the line of duty this year. In February, NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen of Calverton was fatally shot by friendly fire in Queens.
Komossi Sanda, a resident of the Edenwald Houses, said he and his two children were sleeping when sounds from the street woke him up.
“I heard noises. For me it sounds like fireworks," Sanda said. "I heard people shouting outside. I looked out my window and saw lots of police, lots of police cars.”
The public housing complex dominates the area, which also includes a mix of retail stores and rows of mostly single-family homes.
At a separate news conference Sunday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Mulkeen's death is a reminder of the hazards police officers face every day.
"I've said this a number of times, but this is one of those moments that brings it home. Every person in this city has to remember the sacrifice that the NYPD makes, and they deserve respect from every person in this city," Cuomo said. "It's not an expression: 'They put their lives on the line.' They do put their lives on the line, and when we lose an officer, it brings it all home."
Before he joined the NYPD, Mulkeen competed for the track and field team at Fordham University in the Bronx and had just recently decided to return as a volunteer coach, according the school's athletic department website, which include a statement of condolence Sunday.
He competed in the hammer throw and the weight throw from 2004 to 2008 at Fordham and was a two-year field captain, the website said. In 2008, Mulkeen took home a bronze medal in the weight throw at the Atlantic 10 Indoor Track & Field Championship, according to the website, which posted numerous photographs of Mulkeen in competition.
Mulkeen "also helped the Rams win the 2008 Metropolitan Outdoor Track & Field Championship for the first time in program history," said a statement posted on the website.
Patrick Lynch, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Assocation, said the Mulkeen's death had left his family, the police department and the city devastated.
"That's what happens when soulless individuals carry guns and struggle with police officers," Lynch said at the hospital news conference. "They devastate all of us."
A $25,000 donation to Mulkeen's family was announced Sunday morning in a statement by the New York Police & Fire Widows' & Children's Benefit Fund, also known as Answer the Call.
"Answer the Call vows to honor Officer Mulkeen by helping those he loved the most — his family," said Lauren Profeta, executive director of the nonprofit. "His bravery, heroism, and service to our city will never be forgotten."
Also in a statement Sunday morning, Nassau County Police Benevolent Association president James McDermott expressed the union's condolences.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of Officer Brian Mulkeen, who was killed this morning while on patrol in the Bronx. Officer Mulkeen will forever be remembered as a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting crime and making the City of New York a safer place for its residents. Officer Mulkeen will never be forgotten, and police officers everywhere stand together in mourning his loss,” McDermott said.
With Nicole Fuller