Officer Brian Groves was shot around 3:40 a.m. Thursday during a routine patrol on the Lower East Side (7th precinct). Groves swung open a stairwell door of the Essex St. building when he saw the suspect carrying a pistol, reports the New York Times. The suspect fled down the stairs, but turned back to fire on the officer. Groves returned fire before realizing he had been shot near the heart. Groves was saved by his bulletproof vest, and is expected to fully recover, reports the Times.
At the time of the shooting, Officer Groves, 30, and his partner were performing a “vertical patrol,” or a sweep through a building starting at the top and ending at the bottom floor.
Police Commisioner Raymond W. Kelly said in a statement: “The vertical patrol that [Groves] and his partner engaged in is a common, proactive police practice to give some measure of safety to residents of public housing.” He provided the statistic: “approximately four percent of the city’s population resides in public housing, but it experiences about 20% of all violent crime.”
The shooting took place between the 18th and 19th floors after the officers began to pursue the man. Groves dropped near the 15th floor, and the gunman escaped. It’s unclear whether the gunman was shot. The building, part of the Seward Park House complex, was of particular interest because of reports involving narcotics.
According to the Seward Park House Cooperative website, the complex was operated for over thirty years as a limited-equity cooperative, allowing it to receive tax subsidies for keeping the price of apartments at below market rates. They now sell at market rate.
Thursday afternoon the surrounding area was cordoned off with police tape. Officers said it would be closed at least for the day.
One MTA worker at the Delancey/Essex St. subway stop said: “I feel safe, but the community is not safe. The Chase Manhattan Bank [at the corner of Delancey & Essex] has been robbed twice. It’s not safe for police officers, it’s not safe for anyone.”
Jeff Andrews, a resident of the area, said it was the first time he had seen anything like this in the neighborhood. “This is a big thing,” said Andrews, a three year resident of the neighborhood. “It looks like world war three over there.”
Andrews also said he thought police had been overreacting to such incidents ever since 9/11. “The guy didn’t even get shot,” said Andrews, “now they’re going through every single apartment with no warrant. They’ve been here since 2:30 [a.m.].” Andrews indicated the long line of police vans in front of the housing complex.
When asked if the incident made him feel any less safe, Andrews said: “I guess something’s gotta happen sooner or later.”
Another resident of the area, Mike Duvall, said he had been living nearby for 22 years. Duvall said the incident “doesn’t change anything” and he still “absolutely feel[s] safe.” Duvall said a recent incident involving teenage boys with guns nearby made him feel more unsafe.
A man standing outside a psychic/tarot card shop near the intersection of Delancey and Essex Sts. gave the name Steve and said he was married to the psychic who worked there. He said he has lived nearby for four years.
“I love it,” he said of the area. He said he feels no less safe after the shooting. Steve also said he has not heard about similar violence in the area. “This is the first time in four years it’s been so close,” he said.
A construction worker who had been working nearby for months also said he felt no less safe after the shooting.
Officer Groves is the ninth police officer shot on duty this year. As of Thursday afternoon, police were still looking for the suspect, described according to Kelly as “a black male in his 20s, about 5-foot-9, thin build, with his hair braided in corn rows, and wearing a black T-shirt with red basketball shorts with beige stripes.”
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