An NYPD officer was shot after chasing after a man with a gun in the Bronx Tuesday night, according to police.
Two anti-crime officers, both members of the department's new public safety teams, were patrolling in uniform and in an unmarked police vehicle around 10:45 p.m., according to police. The cops saw a man just south of Third Avenue and Claremont Parkway in the Claremont section, and went to approach him when he took off on foot.
The officers ran after him, heading west before going up Bathgate Avenue during their block-and-a-half chase. That's when the man turned toward them and fired two shots, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said at a press conference early Wednesday morning. One officer was struck in the left arm.
The officers returned fire, striking the suspect in the head, according to police sources. He was listed in critical condition at St. Barnabas Hospital, police said.
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The officer was taken to Lincoln Hospital after getting struck in the arm, according to police. He was released the following day.
A 9-mm Glock handgun was recovered at the scene. Essig said that the firearm was stolen from Richmond, Virginia, in June 2021.
The suspect was identified as 25-year-old Rameek Smith, according to police. He is believed to have lived in a homeless shelter on Staten Island, but had family members with addresses nearby in the Bronx.
Essig said that Smith has multiple previous arrests, including one for robbery on Staten Island in July 2016. Smith pleaded guilty, and received five years probation.
During that time on probation, Smith was again locked up for criminal possession of a weapon after he was found with a gun while evading paying subway fare at a Coney Island subway stop in March 2020. Police who were questioning him at the time found a 32-caliber handgun on him, according to Essig.
That case is still open, police said, after Smith pleaded guilty in Dec. 2021 and was released on his own recognizance. He was awaiting sentencing, and was next scheduled to appear in court in June.
"Rameek Smith was a father and son. His tragic and untimely killing is devastating. Mr. Smith was released from New York City Department of Correction custody on a non-violent felony in March 2020, on consent of the Kings County District Attorney’s office and the Court," the Legal Aid Society, counsel for Smith, said in a statement after his passing Wednesday. "Since that time, after being accepted to Mental Health Court, Mr. Smith complied with all of his obligations, attending every court appearance and consistently participating in programming to address his needs."
The shooting came ahead of an announcement by NYC Mayor Eric Adams and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell scheduled for Wednesday afternoon about public safety in the city.
"This is what we're dealing with — a perpetrator with multiple arrests. The last arrest: criminal possession of a weapon. How was he found to have been carrying the weapon? Jumped the turnstile at the subway station, and had the weapon on him," said Adams at the press conference. "People want to ask why am I cracking down on fare evasions? That's why."
"Our city is divided. The overwhelming number of New Yorkers are the good guys. A small number of violent people are the bad guys," Adams said.
He added that the officer who was shot, as well as that officer's father-in-law, are both on the neighborhood safety teams, which target illegal guns.
"You have family members in the city that are saying we're tied of living in violence, and they are up against those who believe we should be spending our attention protecting criminals. Who the hell will protect the innocent New Yorkers in this city?" Adams said adamantly. "It is time for us to stop spending our energy protecting people who are committing crime and violence. This person has an extensive arrest history, he has made up his mind - he was not going to stop until he took the life of an innocent person."
Adams struck a hard pro-police line in the press conference, saying that he was "tired of the complaints about officers who are doing their job. We put these officers on the front lines, father and son on the front line...we spend more attention critiquing their actions. Let's critique the actions of those committing the crimes in this city."
He also criticized recent bail reform changes, blaming the number of shootings in the city on offenders being released after arrests.