Jamaica, Queens — MTA Police Officer John Barnett was stabbed in the eye yesterday by knife-wielding Edgar Owens, who has a history of beating up cops. Barnett shot and killed the assailant.
The incident occurred at around 9:30 a.m. yesterday at the Jamaica Station of the Long Island Rail Road. Owens walked up to Barnett, completely unprovoked, and said “I’m going to kill you,” according to Marjorie Anders, a spokeswoman for the MTA.
Barnett, 45, tried to disarm the emotionally disturbed man, and ended up shooting and killing him. The officer fired four shots, three of which struck Owens, hitting his jaw, chest and hip. He was taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later, according to the MTA.
The 13-year veteran of the MTAPD suffered a “devastating” wound to his left eye and underwent surgery at Jamaica Hospital, lasting four and a half hours, according to the agency. It is still unknown whether Barnett will retain his sight in that eye. However, he was conscious and able to speak to his family in the emergency room,
“He did exactly what we expect of all of our officers: In a split second, confronted with a violent individual who posed a threat to everyone around him, he took action without regard to his personal safety,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said in a prepared statement. “We are all in awe of his bravery.”
Barnett was on routine patrol when Owens, 46, of the Bronx, walked out of the station at street level while holding the knife at his side. He approached Barnett, who was standing near a taxi booth. The incident was caught on video and witnessed by several bystanders.
“The officer kept saying ‘Drop your weapon,’ but the guy didn’t listen, so the cop shot him,” Anders said.
Owens has a criminal history which includes arrests for criminal possession of a weapon, assault on a police officer and criminal possession of a controlled substance, according to the NYPD.
In 2006, he punched an officer in the face at the 26th Precinct in Manhattan. In 2007, he walked into the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica and demanded to be arrested or he would punch someone, according to the MTA.
The investigation into the incident did not disrupt LIRR service, but access to the staircases and escalators was blocked temporarily. Customers had to use the elevators near the ticket offices or in the AirTrain building to access the platforms, the MTA said.
Barnett had never fired his weapon on the job before, according to the MTA. He served a year with the NYPD before joining the MTAPD in 1999. He is a graduate of SUNY Maritime College and served in the Navy Reserve, doing tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He lives in Suffolk County and has a 12-year-old son.
“Today we are reminded once again of the bravery and sacrifice of our men and women in law enforcement, and the many dangers that accompany the important job of keeping our state’s residents safe,” Gov. Cuomo said in a prepared statement. “We applaud Officer Barnett’s bravery and pray for a full recovery.”