Police officers in the Bronx killed a man they believe had fired an air pistol at them Friday night, the second fatal encounter in the area in four days.
The confrontation that led to the shooting happened at about 7 p.m. near the intersection of Seneca and Hunts Point Avenues in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx, officials said.
Plainclothes drug detectives working in the area said they heard a dispute in which a man said he was going to his car to retrieve a gun, according to a report by Assistant Chief Philip Rivera at a news conference around 10 p.m. .
The man was returning in a pickup truck and getting out at the corner of the avenues when a detective approached him wearing a vest with the word “police,” the officer said. Another detective yelled, “Police – don’t move,” according to Assistant Chief Rivera’s account of the incident.
The man fired what Assistant Chief Rivera said was a supposed airsoft pistol, but missed a detective’s head from a distance of about 5 feet. The weapon “looks like a semi-automatic firearm,” he said.
Police officers fired ten shots at the man and beat him five times. He died at Lincoln Medical Center, Assistant Chief Rivera said. Officials have not identified the man but cited a history of felony arrests.
Police would not say if video footage of the shooting was recorded. They released a photo of the air cannon.
Neither of the two officers involved in the shooting were hit, officials said. They were taken to Jacobi Medical Center to be treated for tinnitus, where Mayor Eric Adams visited them, a city hall spokesman said.
The shooting Friday came after officers fatally shot a 25-year-old man in the Claremont section of the Bronx on Tuesday. Officials said the man shot twice as officers chased him and hit one in the arm. The injured officer left the hospital several hours later.
The officer injured in that shooting, which is under investigation by the Police Force Investigation Division and the Attorney General’s office, was just the latest to be injured by gunfire this year.
In the most serious incident, two police officers were killed in January after being shot in a Harlem apartment while responding to a call about a mother and son arguing.
Earlier that month, an officer was hospitalized after being shot while sleeping in a car outside an East Harlem station, and another officer was hit by a bullet while confronting a teenage suspect in the Bronx.
The shooting of officers and others is one of the high-profile examples of a spike in gun violence that has emerged with the pandemic, has continued throughout the period, and is at the top of Mr Adams’s agenda for improving public safety.
Part of a broader national trend, the surge was most acute in neighborhoods such as the South Bronx, home to many poor and working-class black and Hispanic residents and which have long been plagued by shootings.
The officers’ deaths in the January shooting prompted Mr. Adams to fulfill a prominent campaign promise by introducing a revamped version of a specialized police unit aimed at getting guns off the streets.
The unit’s new incarnation — which had disbanded in 2020 in an admission by police officials that it had created tension between officers and the people they serve — began operation last month. Critics have expressed doubts about whether the new unit is an improvement over its predecessor.