NEW YORK — A police officer shot and killed a suspect in an armed robbery in the Bronx early today as the suspect struggled over his loaded gun with another officer, the police said.
The deadly confrontation followed a fast-paced pursuit that began with a robbery around 4 a.m. and ended with three shots inside the lobby of an apartment building, said John J. McCarthy, the New York Police Department’s chief spokesman. It was the first time that the officer, a 26-year-old who joined the department in 2010, had fired his weapon while on patrol, McCarthy said.
Struck twice, the man, a 44-year-old Bronx resident, identified as James Torres, died a short time later at St. Barnabas Hospital. His weapon had not gone off, McCarthy said.
“The suspect, his arm is being held by the officer and he’s struggling to pull his arm to the officer’s head with the loaded gun,” McCarthy said. “Shots are fired, only by the second officer.” The officer involved in the struggle did not draw his service weapon, McCarthy said.
The shooting occurred soon after reports of a gunpoint robbery at a Chase Bank. The robbery victim was on his way to work and had been waiting for a bus — taking refuge from the cold inside by the cash machines — when a man entered, pulled a gun and demanded his iPhone and cash. The man then ran off, McCarthy said.
The victim, 24, whose name was not released, left a minute later and flagged down a patrol car. Riding around with two officers, he spotted the man who had robbed him, crossing the street. The suspect pointed the gun at an officer after he got out of the car to run after him, McCarthy said; the officer took cover.
The pursuit drew many officers to the apartment building, where the suspect forced his way through the lobby’s locked doors, McCarthy said. The two officers who entered the building after him were from neighboring police precincts; their names were not released.
McCarthy said investigators believed the suspect, who the police said had been arrested more than two dozen times since 1997, may have been involved in at least three recent similar robberies in the area, including one Dec. 24. He was released this year from prison after serving time for an attempted robbery.
In addition to a loaded .380-caliber handgun, the police found four cellphones on the suspect after the shooting, including the iPhone taken at the bank shortly before, McCarthy said.