Nobody knows like the NYPD that sometimes the difference between life and death is a fraction of an inch — in this case, the distance between a gunman’s bullet and one of Officer Shane Farina’s vital arteries.
So it was with a celebratory air that a throng of fellow officers greeted Farina as he was released from Elmhurst Hospital last Friday, nearly two weeks after a fare-evading suspect shot him and his partner, Officer Jason Maass, in a busy Long Island City subway station.
Among the dozens of men and women in blue standing at attention was Lieutenant Gary Abrahall, who collared suspect Raul Nunes shortly after he shot Maass and Farina at the Queensbridge F line station on Oct. 21.
Pride filled Abrahall’s voice as he spoke about Farina. “He’s one of my best officers,” the lieutenant said. “He’s a great guy, a great cop, a great guy all around.”
Farina emerged from the hospital’s sliding glass doors last week to thunderous applause from officers and onlookers, pushed in a wheelchair by staff members before being helped up to make a few steps to a black car waiting curbside.
When asked what he planned to do once he got home, the father of two simply said, “Relax.”
Maass was released from Elmhurst Hospital the day after the shooting, which occurred after the two officers caught Nunes illegally using a student MetroCard during the station’s afternoon rush hour.
After a struggle, Nunes somehow grabbed a gun belonging to one of the officers and opened fire, shooting Maass in the lower back and Farina in the sternum, cracking one on his ribs.
Nunes then ran up the stairs to the street, firing three shots at Abrahall, who was running to the station to assist the officers. Abrahall shot Nunes, hitting him in the leg and torso, taking him into custody.
An immigrant from the Dominican Republic deported by U.S. immigration officials on a drug charge in 1998, Nunez was arraigned by a Queens judge in his hospital bed at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital Center on Oct. 23.
Nunez told reporters that he snapped after getting nabbed by Maass and Farina, fearing he would be deported.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Nunes would be charged with the attempted murder of a police officer.
The incident shocked Queens and the rest of the city, taking place in front of scores of subway riders at this transit hub near Queensbridge Houses — proving once again that even routine police stops can end in violence.
For the near future, Farina will be spending some time on the sidelines. “He’s a fighter,” Abrahall said. “He’s going to need some time to recoup.”
Though it was Abrahall’s heroism that ended the shootout, he was quick to put the spotlight back where he thought it really belonged — on Farina.
Shortly after seeing his officer get up out of his wheelchair mostly unassisted, the joy and pride on Abrahall’s face was plain. “It was like Christmas morning,” he said.