Two NYPD officers were shot while patrolling a housing project in the Bronx by a suspect who police said went on to kill himself, officials said.
The pair was conducting a vertical patrol with one other officer at the Melrose Houses on East 156th Street in the South Bronx about 8 p.m. Thursday when they came across two men in a sixth floor stairwell who they asked for identification, police said.
One of the men pulled out a pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and fired three times at the police, hitting one cop in the midsection and another in the face before he ran up the stairs, cops said.
The man, identified by the New York Daily News as Malik Chavis, 23, made it up one flight and dashed into an apartment on the seventh floor, where he shot himself.
“I just shot a policewoman. I ain’t going back to jail,” Chavis reportedly said before he killed himself.
The deceased suspect, several other individuals, a semi-automatic firearm and a shotgun were found inside the apartment, police said.
Several of those who were in the apartment as well as the other man in the stairwell were taken for questioning, authorities said.
The two injured officers were rushed to Lincoln Hospital.
Officer Diara Cruz, 24, was shot in the torso below her bulletproof vest and underwent surgery late Thursday, the News wrote. Her partner, 29-year-old Patrick Espeut, was shot in the cheek.
Espeut was released from the hospital at 4 p.m. on Friday as a sea of blue applauded the officer who was wheeled out to an NYPD van. He gave those cheering a thumbs up and a wave before being driven away.
Cruz remained hospitalized.
The officers are assigned to Police Service Area 7 and have been on the force for two years, police said.
The housing development is located in the 40thth Precinct, where Officer Sherrod Stuart was shot in the ankle by friendly fire during a shootout on January 9. Stuart survived.
Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce called Thursday’s patrol “routine” and said that the stairwell was well-lit.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who was in San Antonio for a policing conference, expressed on Twitter how proud he was of his officers.
“Proud of my officers, hopeful for their speedy recovery, grateful for the many expressions of concern and support on their behalf,” he wrote.
The shooting occurred less than five miles from Lehman College, where Mayor Bill de Blasio was giving his annual State of the City address.
He was made aware of the shooting after he finished his speech and rushed to the hospital.
“I am pleased to say that both officers have been alert and communicating, so we are praying for the best here. And of course our hearts and our prayers are with their families,” de Blasio said at a press conference at the hospital.
“It’s another example of what our officers confront every single day keeping us safe, not only in the streets of New York City but in the stairwells and the hallways of our public housing developments,” he continued.
Governor Andrew Cuomo also took to Twitter after the shooting, writing: “My thoughts are with the 2 #NYPD officers shot tonight in the line of duty.
"The #NYPD truly are New York’s finest, and I join all New Yorkers in praying for their recovery.”
Chavis has 17 prior arrests and was most recently released from prison in December 2014, records show.
His brother took to Facebook to express his grief, writing: “God Bless You my brother. I am so sorry. (tears) Talk with you soon. Love you!”
Another relative paid tribute to Chavis on social media, posting photos of the pair together and writing: “My youngest and stronger brother. I hear your spirit and feel you love. It’s gonna be hard for me and I won’t let go of the fact that you’re not here until time allows me. Your love is person is and will always be POWER. R.I.P.”
Others were not as receptive to the outpouring of support for his loss, with one person writing on a relative’s Facebook page: “Is that the ***** that was killed because he shot two cops? Good riddance sub human scum.”