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June 3, 2024

Police: Migrant suspect in shooting that injured 2 NYPD officers in U.S. illegally

Teen from Venezuela also injured when cops returned fire, authorities say

By Chris Benson

June 3 (UPI) -- A teenage migrant from Venezuela is now in custody after allegedly shooting and injuring two NYPD officers in the early Monday morning hours while they attempted to stop him in Queens, police say.

The suspect was hospitalized after police returned fire.

NYPD Officer Richard Yarusso, 26, was shot in the chest while wearing his bullet-proof vest, while his partner, Officer Christopher Abreu, also 26, was hit in the leg, police said.

Police said the officers' injuries came after the 19-year-old suspect, Bernardo Raul Castro Mata, allegedly opened fire after the officers spotted Castro before 2 a.m. EDT driving the wrong way on 82nd Street near 23rd Avenue in East Elmhurst.

The migrant teen then allegedly ditched the scooter and proceeded to run on foot before the shooting incidents took place, police said. Both officers, part of the 115th precinct, were treated at Elmhurst Hospital and then released about six hours later.

Abreu and Yarusso were investigating a series of robberies totaling 80 so far that involved criminals using motorized scooters or bikes.

Police officials say Castro Mata entered the United States illegally last July from Venezuela through Eagle Pass, Texas, and was staying in a converted migrant shelter.

"The patterns that we're looking at currently in Queens ...," NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said Monday, "involve phone snatches and instances where a woman was attacked, her credit card was stolen and eventually used in a Queens smoke shop."

NYPD have so far recovered 2,746 guns since the year began. The gun allegedly used in Monday's shooting later was recovered, authorities said.

Castro Mata was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Queens, where he underwent surgery.

"Our officers began a foot pursuit, which led for several blocks," said NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban. "During the pursuit, the suspect fired multiple rounds at our officers, who then returned fire."

Yarusso, who joined NYPD nearly three years ago, "was more concerned about his partner," according to Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Hendry, who said Yarusso used a tourniquet to slow the bleeding of his partner's leg.

Hendry called the two "heroic," while NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said Yarusso and Abreu, a five-year NYPD veteran, are "very brave and courageous for what they did tonight, what they've been doing to keep New Yorkers safe."