An NYPD officer struck in the arm by a bullet allegedly fired by a teen gunman ignored his wound and gave chase to the 16-year-old suspect, cops said Tuesday.
Officer Paul Lee and his partner were driving on patrol in uniform in their unmarked vehicle when they spotted a young man at the corner of E. 183rd St. and Prospect Ave. in Belmont about 3 a.m., cops said.
The cops, part of the 48th Precinct’s Public Safety Team, pulled over to talk to the teen — who whipped out a gun and started firing, officials said.
The teen’s bullets struck the car’s windshield and Lee, who was in the passenger seat, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said.
Lee and his partner returned fire.
Lee, who joined the department three years ago, began to chase the fleeing suspect. His partner pulled him back into the vehicle and rushed him to St. Barnabas Hospital.
“Officer Lee will be going home,” Mayor Adams said at a press conference at the hospital. “Too many innocent people don’t go home after gun violence.”
The 16-year-old boy was arrested after a brief chase. The teen had a .32-caliber pistol on him, officials said.
The teen was charged with attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon. His name was not released due to his age.
Six .32-caliber shell casings were found at the scene. Investigators were doing ballistic tests to confirm the teen’s gun was the one used in the shooting.
The teen, whose name was not released, was arrested in 2022 in a knifepoint robbery, said a law enforcement source.
“Let me be clear: we will stop at nothing to ensure that theses subjects involved in this shooting and the people who drive violence in this city will be brought to justice,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said.
A few moments later three shots were fired on E. 183rd St., about 100 feet away from the first shooting scene. It’s not believed those shots were aimed at the pursuing officers, Essig said.
Cops were investigating the possibility that a second gunman was shooting at the teen.
Lee was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon.
Pat Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, said Lee and his partner were “professionals right to the end.”
“While there was chaos all around them, they were calm,” Lynch said.
Lee’s partner moved quickly to drive the wounded cop to the hospital, Lynch said. “If he could have, when he got to the hospital he probably would have done the operation as well,” said the PBA chief.
Residents said they were alarmed by the shooting but not surprised.
“This area, it’s nothing new,” said Roberto Ramirez, 47, a maintenance worker at a nearby building. “If you asked anybody around here, multiple shootings. We need more patrols. Be more present.”
Junior Perez, 25, who works at a local liquor store, said residents know to be alert.
“It gets ugly,” Perez said. “A lot of drugs get smuggled, a lot of bulls—t. It happens so much. It’s an everyday thing, man. Wonder when it’s gonna stop.”
Lee was the first NYPD cop to be shot this year. Ten NYPD officers were shot last year, including Officers Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera, both killed by a deranged gunman as they responded to a domestic dispute in Harlem.
The NYPD will be marking the one year anniversary of Mora and Rivera’s death this weekend.
On New Year’s Eve, lone wolf jihadist Trevor Bickford attacked two officers with a machete just outside Times Square, fracturing a rookie officer’s skull before cops shot and wounded him. Bickford is now facing federal terrorism charges.
The Public Safety Team replaced the controversial plainclothes Anti-Crime Unit, which then-Police Commissioner Dermot Shea disbanded in June 2020 after it was involved in a rash of shootings. A number of its officers were named in lawsuits or had complaints filed against them.
Officers in the team are in uniform but drive unmarked cars. The team’s main focus is to get guns off the street, Adams said.
“This officer was doing his job,” the mayor said. “(He’s) part of the important team that has been assembled to remove guns off our streets.”
The shooting and arrest, Adams said, “clearly emphasizes that too many young people have too many guns in their hands.”
“Our job is to create a pathway to stop that,” Adams said.
After a surge in violence during the COVID-19 pandemic, the city saw an 11% drop in homicides and a 17% decline in shootings last year compared with 2021.
As of Sunday, the city had seen 70 shootings this year, 14 less than by this time last year.