Shot Firefighter Glad to Be Alive - NBC New York

Shot Firefighter Glad to Be Alive

Wounded 20-year-old volunteer heads home today



    Firefighter's Shooter Was "Bent on Mayhem"

    Tom Llamas reports. (Published Wednesday, March 2, 2011)

    Long Island firefighter and paramedic Justin Angell headed home from the hospital Thursday after recovering from being shot in the hip responding to what he thought was a routine traffic accident. 

    About 20 fellow firefighters from the Bellmore Fire Department applauded when Angell, 20, was wheeled into the auditorium at Nassau University Medical Center, where he's been treated since the shooting Tuesday night.

    While Angell says he's feeling fine and is ready to go home, he admits he was terrified when the man he tried to save shot him.

    "I'm glad to be alive," Angell said as he stood up and took the podium. "I'm still in shock. It doesn't really make any sense."

    Angell and several other firefighters and medics responded to a call at Bellmore and Claxton avenues at about 10 p.m. Tuesday. The driver of a pickup truck had slammed into a utility pole. 

    Angell jumped out of his ambulance to assess the condition of the crash victim. But as he got closer to the truck, police say the driver, Jason Beller, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon.

    Angell was hit once in the hip. His brother, Dean Angell, another Bellmore first responder, was behind the wheel of the ambulance at the time. When he heard gunshots, Dean quickly positioned the ambulance as a shield between the shooter and the other firefighters.

    Bellmore Fire Chief Robert Taylor, Dean Angell and others managed to hoist Justin into the ambulance and they drove to the hospital.

    "I jumped out, picked him up. We took off as quickly as we could," said Dean Angell.

    Police officers who responded to the scene fired at Beller, killing him.

    Investigators later discovered several high-powered weapons in the truck and ammo strapped to the suspect's body -- indications he was planning "mayhem," officials said. Beller's family described him as a "troubled" man.

    Justin Angell said Thursday he hopes to return to work within the next four weeks. Joining Justin and Dean Angell at the hospital's midday press conference was their father Gene Angell, a Nassau County police detective.

    The relieved father acknowledged it's often in the back of his mind that his sons' work puts them in danger. But, he says he wouldn't deter them from pursuing their passions.

    "They grew up around it. It's in their blood," Gene Angell said, adding that he was glad his son, Justin, was OK. "I wouldn't want them to stop. They want to do it."