A robbery victim whose attackers were chased by an NYPD officer says he wants to thank the cop who pursued them even after he had been shot, saying the decision saved his life.
"I will be thankful to him for the rest of my life," Mario Abarca, 60, said Thursday as his eyes welled up with tears.
Abarca described how two men hit him in the head with a gun, grabbed $80 from his pockets and still demanded more.
"They weren't happy with the money, they wanted more," Abarca said of the attack on Wednesday evening in the Bronx. "They grabbed my neck looking for a chain, but I'm a cab driver, I don't wear gold jewelry."
Abarca says he saw Officer Ivan Marcano get out of a car and approach them. He did not know Marcano was an officer because he was off duty and wearing plainclothes. But he was stunned when one of the thieves fired his gun and shot Marcano.
Police released security video Thursday showing some of the dramatic moments in the shootout. Police say the suspects tried to drive away but were stopped behind a few cars at a traffic light. They tried to drive around and hit another car.
The suspects then got out of the car and tried to run away. Marcano can be seen on security video, getting out of the car, clutching his wound, while steadying his other arm with a gun in his hand.
He was able to shoot one of the suspects.
"Imagine having the wherewithal within yourself," said PBA president Pat Lynch. "Wounded with a bullet, one hand holding the wound to stop the bleeding in your chest and you're still able to control your firearm and pursue the perps that tried to kill you. That is a true hero right to the marrow of your bones."
Marcano had surgery to remove the bullet and is recovering at the hospital. The NYPD said authorities are seeking 20-year-old Jason Leiva for questioning in connection with the shooting of Marcano.