A gunman marched into a Bronx police stationhouse on Sunday morning and immediately pulled out a gun and shot several rounds at the desk area, injuring an NYPD lieutenant in the arm—hours after an “assassination attempt” on two officers sitting in a van in the same precinct, according to several reports.
“This was an attempt to murder the very people who work so hard day and night to keep the people of this city safe,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a Sunday press conference. “The coward from this morning’s shooting is in police custody. He had a lengthy criminal history.”
Shea went on to explain that after striking an officer in the upper left arm, who tried unsuccessfully to shoot back, “this coward immediately lay down, but only after he ran out of bullets.”
The suspect, Robert Williams, had been involved in an incident in which an individual in the Bronx was shot. Shea said he was also involved in a subsequent carjacking of a female and then a car crash where he engaged in a gunfight with members of the New York City Police Department. “That was in 2002. He was convicted of attempted murder” Shea said. He was paroled in 2017.
His girlfriend, who is reportedly employed as a probationary communications technician by the NYPD, was taken into police custody on Sunday, according to the New York Post.
One of the wounded officers, 31-year-old Paul Stroffolino, was released from the hospital on Sunday afternoon to a standing ovation from his fellow cops. Shea noted on Twitter that Stroffolino had been shot in the chin and neck during the Saturday night rampage.
Louis Turco of the NYPD Lieutenants Benevolent Association warned that without criminal justice reform, more incidents like this could happen. “There are people like this out there,” he said at the press conference. “He is a career criminal. If he has the audacity to shoot at officers in uniform, guess what he is doing to the civilians in this city.” He went on to say, “Right now, the City of New York residents are in danger because of this. We have to get in front of this.”
The first shooting happened 8:30 p.m. Saturday night when an officer sitting in the driver’s seat of a marked police van in the Bronx was hit in the face after a man started a conversation and then pulled a gun. A second officer in the police van was unharmed, according to NYPD Commissioner Shea.
“Let me be very clear: this was an assassination attempt of two New York city police officers,” Shea said at a press conference.
He said the bullet had nearly hit the officer’s carotid artery.
“It is a miracle we are not here under worse circumstances,” he said.
Mayor De Blasio praised the officers at the briefing. “These officers handled with a horrific situation with heroism, with extraordinary skill. Thank god each and every one of them will be ok. We have two officers injured, they will be ok in the end,” he said. “This was an attempt to assassinate police officers. We need to use that word because it was a premeditated effort to kill. Our entire society has to understand, an attack on a police officer is an attack on all of us...we will not accept it and we will fight back with everything we have.”
The NYPD released a photo of the alleged suspect on social media accounts asking for information leading to his capture.
The second shooting incident occurred at 8 a.m. Sunday morning when the same suspect is believed to have walked into the 41st Precinct and opened fire. That officer has been rushed to the hospital. His condition is yet unclear.
On Sunday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted about the incidents. “Horrified by the multiple attacks on @NYPD officers in the Bronx,” he wrote on Twitter. “NY’s law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. These attacks are heinous. Those responsible will be brought to justice & held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
This story is developing.