NEW YORK – A quick-thinking police officer is being praised as a hero for racing through a chaotic scene at Times Square to rush an injured 4-year-old to safety after a shooting at the iconic New York City landmark.
Officer Alyssa Vogel swooped in to grab the girl, who had been shot in a spray of stray bullets hit three bystanders in Times Square on Saturday evening, apply a tourniquet to her leg and bring her to a nearby ambulance.
Vogel, a mother of a 6-month-old herself, said in an interview with the New York Post that the 4-year-old is "the strongest little girl I’ve ever seen.”
The New York Police Department said the shooting occurred after a dispute. Three people were injured and were expected to survive: the 4-year-old, from Brooklyn, who was shot in the leg; Wendy Magrinat, 23, of Rhode Island, who was also shot in the leg; and a 43-year-old woman from New Jersey who was shot in the foot.
Police have released video of a person of interest but had not made an arrest in the shooting as of Monday.
Vogel, who joined the NYPD 4½ years ago, said the child barely cried during the incident, except for when the tourniquet was being applied.
“She was just saying she wanted her mom,” she told the Post. “Her mom was running right behind me, but she was calling for her mother.”
Video posted on Twitter by police shows Vogel with the girl in her arms as she runs to the ambulance.
Speaking with "Good Morning America," Vogel said her "motherly instincts" kicked in.
Hearing a child was shot "was definitely more nerve-wracking because you don't know where she was shot, or if it was true if she was OK. I didn't know the circumstances. So as a mom, I think my motherly instincts went to, 'I need to help her,'" she said.
Vogel said she rode in the ambulance with the girl and rushed her into the hospital's pediatric unit, where doctors took over.
Vogel also offered a message of support to the girl's mother, telling the New York Post: "The little girl’s going to be able to walk again. She’ll be OK."
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a news conference Saturday that the dispute involved two to four people, and one person opened fire.
Shea blamed "bad policies" on the gun violence but did not elaborate.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called it "senseless violence," and said, "The flood of illegal guns into our city must stop."
According to the latest statistics released by the NYPD, shooting incidents are up by about 83% in 2021 compared with this time last year. However, shootings still remain far lower than what the city saw during peaks of violent crime in the 1980s and 1990s.
Magrinat, one of the victims, told the New York Daily News that the incident was something she “never thought would happen in Times Square with so many families around.”
She told WNBC she'd probably have the bullet in her leg for the rest of her life, because doctors told her removing it could cause more damage.
Magrinat was with her husband and child when the shots were fired. “I was literally screaming on the floor, ‘I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die, I have a 2-year-old.’”
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Times Square shooting: NYPD officer Alyssa Vogel hailed as hero in NYC