Family, Friends of Shot NYPD Officer Say He was Lucky

Officer Kevin Brennan, 29, survived a shot to the head.

Family and friends of an NYPD officer shot in the head while chasing a suspect in Brooklyn say he is incredibly lucky to have survived the gun attack.

Officer Kevin Brennan, 29, remains in critical but stable condition at Bellevue Hospital after  emergency surgery during which doctors removed a bullet from his skull.

The suspect, 21-year-old Luis "Baby" Ortiz, was apprehended on Bushwick Avenue at about 11:30 p.m. following a massive manhunt in the area. It wasn't known if he had a lawyer.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Brennan was shot at very close range, according to what investigators have seen on surveillance video of the shooting.

"The officer has his gun out, and you also see that [the suspect] Ortiz has a gun in his hand. They struggle and they fall into an alcove," Kelly said, describing the video. "You can't actually see the shooting but you see Ortiz with his arm around the officer's head, and then he's shot."

Family spokesman Robert Masi said Wednesday that the family is "incredibly grateful -- he's a lucky, lucky guy."

Masi described the officer as a dedicated new father. His six-week-old baby girl, Maeve, is being cared for by family as the officer recovers in the hospital with his wife.

"One of the first things he asked for was Maeve, and I know he can't wait to see her," Masi said.

Brennan and his wife live in Garden City Park on Long Island. Their landlord told NBC New York that Brennan is generous and wonderful and "the first guy to shovel snow for you."

She choked back tears as she said "I don't know why people do that -- put themselves in the line of duty to get hurt."

Neighbor John Skinner, a retired NYPD cop, called Brennan's survival "an act of God" and said it was "one for the good guys."

"He's alive and the other guy's in jail," Skinner said.

Brennan was hit after officers were called to the Bushwick Houses public housing project at about 9 p.m. for shots fired, Kelly said.

Investigators believe Ortiz was shooting at someone with whom he had a stare down.

Three officers, including Brennan, saw three suspects running from the building, Kelly said. Brennan followed one of the suspects into a building, where the man turned and fired a shot at the officer, striking him at the base of his skull.

Ortiz was known to police, said Kelly. One of the officers chasing him had arrested him in the past, and Ortiz was additionally wanted for questioning in a New Year's Day homicide.

As he walked out of the police station Wednesday evening, Ortiz was greeted by a crowd of family and friends, who pushed and shoved members of the press outside the police station and screamed obscenities.

Ortiz yelled the Spanish phrase "amor de rey" -- which means "love for the king" and is a phrase commonly used by the gang the Latin Kings.

Ortiz is likely to be charged with attempted murder of a police officer, according to authorities.

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