A New York City police detective was killed on Tuesday night in a wild shootout that broke out after officers responded to an armed robbery at a cellphone store in Queens, police officials said.
A sergeant was wounded in the thigh in the firefight in the Richmond Hill neighborhood, not far from Kennedy International Airport.
The officers, plainclothes members of an anti-crime squad from the 102nd Precinct, were responding to a report of a robbery at the T-Mobile store, the last of a series of storefronts on the north side of Atlantic Avenue and 120th Street, at about 6:15 p.m.
The detective was the first New York City police officer to be killed in the line of duty since July 2017. He was shot in the chest after confronting the robber during an exchange of gunfire.
Both officers were rushed to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived shortly afterward. Dozens of somber plainclothes detectives stood outside the emergency room in the rain waiting for news about their colleagues.
In addition to the two officers, one of the men suspected of robbery was wounded in the gunfight and taken into custody.
Traffic was backed up for blocks as the police surrounded the shop. Inside, crime scene investigators could be seen combing for evidence.
Detectives fanned out along nearby streets searching for witnesses and security cameras.
Sahdil Sahdil, 73, who has run a nearby hardware store on 94th Avenue for more than two decades, said he heard a barrage of popping sounds.
“I told my wife, that thing sounds like a gun!” he said.
Several neighbors said they were shocked to hear about an armed robbery on the block, let alone a police shootout.
“We wouldn’t expect that in this neighborhood,” said Mala Singh, 48, who has lived in the area for 8 years. “It’s very sad.”