Cop Wounded in Bronx Shootout Can't Speak, But in Good Spirits: Kelly

25-year-old officer shot three times in stable condition, but will be hospitalized awhile

By Colleen Long
|  Tuesday, Mar 23, 2010  |  Updated 2:08 PM EDT
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Cop Wounded in Bronx Shootout Can't Speak, But in Good Spirits: Kelly

NYPD

Robert Salerno.

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A police officer hit three times in a shootout was awake and alert Tuesday, drawing diagrams for NYPD officials showing how his colleagues were "heroes."

Officer Robert Salerno was shot Monday afternoon while responding with three other officers to a 911 call in the South Bronx, not far from Yankee Stadium. The 25-year-old officer was hit twice in the abdomen, and his bullet-resistant vest blocked another bullet.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly visited Salerno on Tuesday at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center and said he was in good spirits, though he'd be hospitalized awhile. He was unable to speak but communicated through writing.

"He made it a point to show me what happened and called the three officers who were with him heroes," Kelly said. "He drew a diagram showing the apartment, showing the bedroom, showing where he was, and when he was hit, when he went down ... they had to go into the line of fire to save him."

The shooting occurred around noon Monday at a housing project. A home health care aide called 911 to say her client's son had a gun and had slapped her. She had somehow enraged the son, Santiago Urena, because she was talking on the phone to someone in the Dominican Republic, Kelly said. Urena opened fire on police, but only Salerno was hit. Officers returned fire, shooting 21 times.

Urena was later found dead inside with a gunshot wound to the head, abdomen and shoulder. It was unclear whether he died from a self-inflicted or from police gunfire. An autopsy was being performed Tuesday.

The reason behind the shooting remained unclear, though Kelly said the 57-year-old Urena had recently lost his job and was apparently distraught. He lived at the apartment with his 91-year-old mother and his father, who had recently died.

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