- Last Updated: 5:00 PM, July 5, 2012
- Posted: 4:39 AM, July 5, 2012
G.N. MIller/New York Post
A manhunt is underway to find the thug who shot an NYPD officer.
The shooting happened at about 3:40 a.m., inside the Seward Park Public Housing Development at 64-66 Essex St. on the Lower East Side, authorities said.
Officer Brian Groves, who will turn 31 later this month, was saved by his bulletproof vest, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly confirmed this morning.
Kelly said Groves, a married seven-year veteran with two little girls, was shot from "no more than eight feet away."
Groves and his partner Officer Erick Corniel were at Seward Park following reports of disorderly conduct and narcotics activity in a stairwell, Kelly said.
Groves opened the door to the 22nd floor stairwell and saw a man with a silver revolver, according to Kelly.
Groves yelled “gun” before he and his partner gave chase, police said. They ran down four flights before the gunman turned and fired, Kelly said.
Despite being shot in the chest, Groves fired four shots at the fleeing thug, who got away. Police don’t know if the gunman was hit.
"Thank God for Kevlar [bulletproof vest], it clearly saved the officer's life," Kelly said.
The gunman was described to be a thin African American male in his 20s, about 5-foot-9 with cornrows. He was wearing a black T-shirt and red basketball shorts with a cream stripe on the side, police said.
"I talked to his [Groves’] wife Nicole, they have two very young children, the youngest just two weeks old," Mayor Bloomberg said. "Thank God they will see their father soon and they will be able to grow up with the love every child should have around them."
Moments after building resident Yvette, 43, sent her son on a McDonald’s run at around 3:30 a.m., shots that "sounded like fireworks," went off.
"It was Fourth of July so I thought it was fireworks. But then I looked out the window and seen cops going down the block. At that point I knew something was up. So I got dressed and came outside," Yvette said.
In the lobby, Yvette said she saw the officer sitting up near the apartment's mailboxes, groaning in pain as he spoke with other cops.
"As soon as I got downstairs, I saw him leaning against the mailbox saying 'ouch! ouch! ouch!' He was groaning with his legs bending straight out,” she said.
Groves is in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital, where doctors are checking out his heart.
A backpack that might belong to the gunman was found at the scene, police said.
Following the shooting, police cars and vans rushed to the scene and helicopters hovered overhead, trying to find the shooter. A portion of the FDR was closed down when Groves was rushed to Bellevue.
Groves is the ninth NYPD cop shot this year.
Officers were posting signs in the neighborhood for a $10,000 cash reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunman. Witnesses are being asked to call (800) COP SHOT with any information.
Bloomberg called for greater federal action to curb interstate firearms sales.
"There's just bullets flying all over the place," the mayor said. "We have to stop this craziness. Washington needs to do something; it's just too easy to bring guns across state lines.”
Today's shooting came less than 20 hours after the stabbing of MTA police officer John Barnett at the LIRR Jamaica station.
Additional reporting by David K. Li