AM NY October 24, 2014

Jamaica, Queens, standoff with hatchet-wielding man ends with 2 officers injured


A hatchet-wielding man attacked four police officers, leaving one in critical condition who suffered a head injury, in Queens on Thursday afternoon, police said.

The officers shot and killed the man, who was not immediately identified, in the Jamaica area of Queens at about 2:10 p.m., police said.

The man lunged at the officers with an 18.5-inch metal hatchet near the corner of 162nd Street and Jamaica Avenue after a freelance photographer asked the officers to pose for a photo, said Police Commissioner William Bratton, who briefed the media at Jamaica Hospital.

He “charged at the officers with a hatchet in his hand, unprovoked, and not speaking a word,” Bratton said.

All four officers graduated from the police academy in July and were assigned to the “Partner Officer Program,” police said.

“These are four rookie cops, just starting out in their career, when the absolute unexpected happened,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We just pray for the speedy recovery of each and every one of them and we make very clear to the family members that the city of New York and the NYPD would be with them for the long haul.”

The suspect first charged at 24-year-old Officer Joseph Meeker, striking him in the arm. He then struck the 25-year-old officer, Kenneth Healey, who suffered from a serious head injury, causing him to fall to the ground, Bratton said.

Meeker was released from the hospital by Friday morning, police said. Healey remained in the hosptial.

The two other officers fired multiple times at the man, killing him, Bratton said. Police are still trying to identify the man.

A 29-year-old woman, who was about a half a block away in front of the Conway department store, was caught in the crossfire and struck by a single bullet in the lower back, police said. She was recovering from surgery and in stable condition last night, Bratton said.

Police released a video of the incident in which a bearded man, wearing a hooded rain coat, can be seen raising the ax above his head before swinging it.

Healey, who suffered from a head injury, was taken to Jamaica Medical Center in critical, but stable condition and was undergoing surgery, Bratton said. He was surrounded by loved ones and came from a family of police officers.

Meeker, who was struck in the arm, was in stable condition and expected to be released.

Bratton said police had no immediate motive for the attack.

Two other officers suffered tinnitus, police said.

Hours later the suspect’s body still remained covered by a white sheet in front of Conway on Jamaica Avenue. Several witnesses seemed thankful it occurred before children were streaming from area schools.

Nicholi Drlon, 22, was about a block away from the incident when he was startled by the sudden loud sounds.

“I heard a bunch of banging,” Drlon said. “I had my music on. I thought it was thunder, so I took my headphones off.”

Marie, 66, who declined to give her last name, was standing on the busy shopping stretch when the shots rang out. She didn’t realize one of the bullets zoomed past her and hit a nearby window until a passerby told her.

“I couldn't move,” she said. “And I said, ‘Oh, wow.’ I was standing right there and didn't even hear the window. Wow.”

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, the police’s union asked New Yorkers to pray for the injured officers.

“Their training kicked in and they immediately responded, and took control of the situation, even though one of their partners was laying on the ground seriously injured,” Lynch said.

(With Lorena Ramirez)