A 22-year NYPD veteran responding to a break-in died hours after being shot in the face by a "career criminal" wielding an illegal semi-automatic weapon, police and Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday.
Peter Figoski, 47, died at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center at about 7:15 a.m. -- some five hours after the shooting in Brooklyn, authorities said.
Scores of police officers and a group that appeared to be the slain officer's relatives stood grief-stricken outside the hospital later in the morning to pay their respects.
Figoski was shot when he and his partner, Glenn Estrada, responded as backup to a 911 call about a robbery at a basement apartment in East New York.
As Figoski and Estrada waited outside, the first two responding officers headed to interview the 25-year-old robbery victim, whom they found lying on the floor with a head injury inflicted by one of the suspects, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a news briefing.
Unbenownst to police, the two suspects, having been unable to escape out the back door, crouched in wait in a side room near the apartment unit, Kelly said. Once the first two officers walked by them, the suspects made their way to the front door, the police commissioner said.
Figoski, who was part of the backup team, was at the bottom of the stairs leading from the street to the basement apartment door when he was shot at close range by one of the assailants, Kelly said.
"His partner, Glenn Estrada, was already struggling on the street level in front of the house with the second suspect when he heard the shot and observed the gunman run by him," Kelly said. "He released the man he was struggling with and pursued the gunman, capturing him after a pursuit of several blocks."
Estrada was treated at the hospital for a shoulder sprain that he suffered in his confrontations with both suspects.
Police say the shooter, identified as Lamont Pride, of Coney Island, (photo at left) is in custody. Kelly said Pride, 27, has five prior arrests, including several on charges related to drug possession and sale. He is wanted for aggravated assault in North Carolina, Kelly said.
In that case, Greensboro, N.C. police said he was one of three men involved in a dispute that led to a shooting. The victim in that case survived.
The second suspect remains at large. He's described as about 5 feet, 7 inches tall and 25 to 30 years old. He was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and light pants. Police released this surveillance video of that suspect.
A semi-automatic pistol was recovered under a parked car near the scene. Police say only one shot was fired, but the gun appeared to have jammed with 10 live rounds still in the magazine. A ski mask was also found at the scene.
Police found a second gun stashed inside a filthy microwave at the apartment. They believe the weapon, an unloaded revolver, belongs to the at-large suspect.
The tenant told police the two suspects banged on his door and initially said they were police officers. Once inside, they demanded money and jewelry, authorities said. They were both wearing ski masks, the tenant told police.
The suspects then knocked the tenant down and one of the men struck him in the head with a firearm, Kelly said.
The robbery victim, who works at a nearby bodega, said the suspects stole an inexpensive watch and $770 in cash before fleeing, Kelly said. He was treated for head injuries at a nearby hospital.
Detectives were investigating whether the tenant was dealing marijuana out of the apartment, and that some of the stolen money was drug money. Police received calls nearby that drugs were being sold, but not at the exact address.
Figoski was divorced and has four daughters, two in high school and two in college. He's been on the force 22 years, with more than 200 arrests and had 12 medals awarded, including eight for exceptional police duty.
His older girls attend college upstate, and when Kelly got word of the shooting, he contacted State Police Lt. Michael Greco, the liaison to the department, who had them flown by helicopter to Albany, N.Y., and then by state police plane to Kennedy Airport so they could be with their father.
A Suffolk County police cruiser kept guard Monday outside Peter Figoski's dormered, Cape Cod-style home on a quiet street on suburban Long Island; no answer answered the door.
"I'm just stunned," neighbor Jim Mauro said. "He was here yesterday and today he's gone."
"I got goose bumps all over my body when I heard the news," said Helen Krebs, who lives across the street. She said Figoski's two eldest daughters had babysat for her 5-year-old son, Matthew, and she frequently saw Figoski working on his yard.
"He raised his daughters wonderfully. They were hard-working, conscientious, wonderful, salt-of-the-earth-type people," Krebs said.
"I could rely on him to be very helpful if I needed something," she said. "It was comforting having him as a neighbor across the street."
A vigil was planned for Figoski in Brooklyn on Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m.