A New York police officer has been hailed as a hero after she was captured on video running from the scene of a shooting in Times Square on Saturday, clutching a toddler who had been hit by a stray bullet.
Officer Alyssa Vogel raced to the ambulance with wounded four-year-old Skye Martinez as the girl’s mother followed behind them, after a man fired wildly into a crowd of pedestrians targeting his brother in Times Square.
Bullets rang out at around 5pm near West 44th Street and 7th Avenue when a man arguing with three other people fired bullets and injured three unintended targets, including two women and a toddler. Pictures have been released of the prime suspect Farrakhan Muhammad, 31.
The officer shared a Mother’s Day message to the girl’s mother, who watched her baby take the bullet in her leg and recalled the firing incident speaking to the New York Post.
“She’ll be OK,” Ms Vogel said to the toddler’s mother. “Keep your head up. The little girl’s going to be able to walk again. She’ll be OK.”
The officer recalled the incident, calling Skye “the strongest little girl” she has ever seen, and said she “didn’t even cry” after being shot and continuously called for her mother.
“This little girl was so strong,” Ms Vogel said. “She didn’t even cry once except when we were putting the tourniquet on. She screamed because it’s very painful.”
Frantic scenes followed the shooting as Ms Vogel ran carrying the child in her arms to rush to the ambulance. She was followed by other officers and Skye’s mother. The video shows the injured girl raising her hand to call for her mother.
“I just picked her up so I could run to the ambulance. She was just saying she wanted her mom. Her mom was running right behind me, but she was calling for her mother,” Ms Vogel recalled.
Ms Vogel, herself the mother of a six-month-old boy, said she kept telling the girl’s mother to breathe as she herself has a baby and knows how it feels.
“I kept telling her to breathe, that I know what she’s going through because I have a baby myself,” said Ms Vogel. “It was very difficult for her, very traumatic. She saw her daughter just get shot.”
Ms Vogel joined the NYPD four and a half years ago after quitting her job as a school teacher. She said she joined the force to help people.
A woman, Wendy Magrinat, 23, who was also injured during the shooting, recalled that bystanders began to film videos on their phones instead of helping her. She said she cried in pain but no one helped her.
“I don’t want to die, please help me!” she recalled saying. “The pain was too much, and I dropped to the floor.”
She said she understands people were in shock. “But if you’re in shock, you shouldn’t be recording. But that’s how people are right now,” Ms Magrinat added.
Police are still on the lookout for the shooter and released the mugshot of a suspect, appealing for people to inform them of any sightings.