Just one day after the 29th National Night Out Against Crime, an event held every summer by police precincts across the country to encourage communities to adopt ways to fight crime, a police officer was shot and wounded in Jamaica.
Sgt. Craig Bier, 44, a member of the Queens gang unit, was shot after he and his partner, Det. Nick Romano, tried to stop a man on a bicycle, whom they believed was acting suspicious, at around 10:30 p.m. at 107th Avenue and Union Hall Street, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said this morning at a press conference at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where Bier is recovering.
The man got off the bike and ran down a narrow alley between a house and a tall chain-link fence, which enclosed a parking lot, Kelly said. Then the suspect jumped on the hood of a parked white van and attempted to escape onto 107th Avenue, Kelly said.
As Bier tried to block the gunman’s escape route, the suspect shot at him, firing four times. Bier returned fire, shooting six times. The officer was struck in both legs and collapsed on the sidewalk along the fenceline of 167-12 Union Hall St., Kelly said.
“A Queens South impact team in the area heard the gunfire and drove in the direction of the shooting,” Kelly said. “They saw Sgt. Bier on the sidewalk, put him in their vehicle and rushed him here to Jamaica Hospital.”
A Ruger 9-mm pistol was recovered at the rear of 167-11 107 Ave., not far from the crime scene, Kelly said. It had three rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. The police have a person of interest in custody. He is at another area hospital, conscious with a head wound, Kelly said.
The officers were patrolling the area, which is in the confines of the 103rd precinct, because gang “crews” are known to operate there, according to the commissioner.
Citing the Colorado theater massacre, the Sikh Temple murders, the recent killing of officer Peter Figoski in Brooklyn and other brutal crimes, Mayor Bloomberg called on elected officials to come up with ways to curb gun violence. His sentiments were echoed by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who also attended the press conference.
“Thank God Sgt. Bier’s injuries are not life-threatening, and he is alert and in remarkably good spirits,” Bloomberg said, adding, “Thirty-four people are being murdered in this country every single day with illegal firearms. I think it’s fair to say that we are still waiting for the leaders of our country, and those who want to be the leaders of our country, to stand up and tell us what they are going to do about this.”
Bier is the 10th city cop to be shot this year, Kelly said. The highly decorated 15-year veteran of the force has earned 65 medals — 14 for meritorious duty — during his time with the NYPD. “This is the type of officer that the public should thank God we have working for the New York City Police Department,” Kelly said.
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit tips by logging onto nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting 274637 (CRIMES), then entering TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.