Shot Cop Alert as Examiner Says Gunman Was Killed by Police Bullet

Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010  |  Updated 8:16 AM EDT
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Shot Cop Alert as Examiner Says Gunman Was Killed by Police Bullet

NYPD

Offier Robert Salerno.

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An NYPD cop hit three times in a deadly shootout was awake and alert Tuesday, drawing diagrams police 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."

Meanwhile, the city medical examiner ruled that the shooter, Santiago Urena, died in police gunfire, not by a self-inflicted shot.

Officers fired 21 times, hitting him in the temple, abdomen and shoulder. Investigators initially thought he may have died from a self-inflicted wound because of the way the bullet hit the temple.

The shooting occurred around noon Monday at a housing project. A home health care aide called 911 to say Urena, the son of her 91-year-old client, had a gun and had slapped her. She had somehow enraged Urena because she was talking on the phone to someone in the Dominican Republic, Kelly said.

Whe cops arrived Urena opened fire on police, but only Salerno was hit. Officers returned fire, with Salerno firing 16 of the 21 shots.

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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