A 21-year-old man has been identified by police as the suspect in the violent robbery of an off-duty officer, who was punched in the face and had her gun stolen while she was headed to work in the Bronx.
Police say Samuel Thornton is wanted in connection with the robbery, which happened early Wednesday morning.
The 41-year-old woman was headed to her precinct at about 5:20 a.m. when the suspect approached her inside a basement parking garage in her building on Bronx Boulevard and East 226th Street in Wakefield, according to the NYPD.
The suspect snatched the officer's gold chain from around her neck and demanded her wallet. The officer reached into her bag, but the suspect grabbed her purse and punched her in the face, causing her to fall to the ground, authorities said.
The purse also fell to the ground during the confrontation, but the suspect was able to get the woman's gun. He ran away after the mugging, police say.
The officer, who wasn’t in uniform at the time, was taken to a hospital with abrasions and a facial contusion.
Residents in the building said they recognized the surveillance image of the suspect. Superintendent Robert Rodriguez said he chased him from the garage early Tuesday morning.
"I've seen him before," Rodriguez told NBC 4 New York. "I warned him I don't want him in the building."
Neighbor Teresa Botel said she also saw the suspect last week, on Thursday.
"Thank God my husband was with me," she said.
Residents said the parking garage doors are supposed to stay shut down at all times for security reasons.
NYPD officials say they expect an arrest soon.
"We believe he's nearby in this community, and we'll get him," said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.