An officer attempting to stop a would-be carjacker from taking a car with two children in the back seat fatally shot the man directly in front of the boys, authorities said Monday.
Police said 21-year-old Denzel Brown had stolen two pairs of headphones from a Best Buy on West Sunrise Highway in Bay Shore when Suffolk County police officers arrived on the scene and a foot chase ensued.
An officer following Brown on foot tried to stun him with a Taser, but it was ineffective, police said.
During the chase, Brown attempted to open the doors of moving and parked cars in the store's parking lot and along Nevada Avenue. He was able to get into a running car that had two boys, ages 4 and 6, in the back seat, police say.
The man and woman who had been in the car were screaming at Brown to stop, and the officer ordered him out of the vehicle, but Brown got into the driver's seat and began to drive away with the boys, police said.
The officer, a 34-year-old who has been on the force for nine years, fired one shot into the driver's side window, then opened the car door and tried to get Brown out of the driver's seat, according to police.
Police said the officer tried using the Taser again, but it was still ineffective. Brown was in the driver's seat when the officer fired a bullet at point-blank range into his stomach.
Brown died during surgery at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore. The boys, nephews of the car's driver, were unhurt.
Police officials praised the officer's actions.
"The preliminary indication is that this shooting is justified," said Suffolk Police Chief James Burke.
Suffolk Police Commissioner Edward Webber said he "absolutely consider her actions heroic."
Residents said they could see the scene unfolding from their homes.
“I thought I heard noise, then we saw flashing lights, so I looked out the window and I just saw cops running down the street,” said Craig O’Connor, who lives nearby. “It’s kind of scary, definitely."
The Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad is investigating the shooting. The Suffolk County District Attorney will review the case.
-- Greg Cergol contributed to this report