Masked gunman opens fire on police in Brooklyn backyard

Police officers on the scene of a fatal shooting near the intersection of Howard Avenue and Dumont Avenue in Brooklyn on Sept 2, 2019.
Police officers on the scene of a fatal shooting near the intersection of Howard Avenue and Dumont Avenue in Brooklyn on Sept 2, 2019.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Police officers in Brownsville, Brooklyn, spotted an unusual sight early Monday morning (Sept 2): a masked man walking on a quiet residential street.

The officers attempted to stop the man, but he fled and then began shooting at their patrol car, the police said. The gunman tried to hide, but a neighbour alerted the officers to his whereabouts. Cornered in a backyard, the man aimed at the police again, and was killed in a hail of gunfire, the police said.

The overnight shooting, in which no officers were injured, happened just after 2.30am Eastern time (2.30pm Singapore time) on Labour Day in a part of Brooklyn where 12 people were shot at a block party in July and crime rates are twice the citywide average.

Incidents in some pockets of the city - northern Manhattan, northern Brooklyn and parts of Queens - have driven a 7.6 per cent rise in shootings as of Sept 1 compared with the same period last year, despite an overall decline in crime citywide, according to police statistics.

The death in Brownsville was one of four fatal shootings that took place in the city early on Labour Day.

At about the same time as the incident in Brownsville, a 50-year-old woman was killed in Flatbush, Brooklyn. About an hour later, in Bushwick, Brooklyn, a man was shot in the chest.

At 4.30am in Richmond Hill, Queens, one man was killed and two others were injured in a drive-by shooting outside a nightclub.

The Flatbush shooting happened just a few hours before J'Ouvert, a daybreak celebration that takes place in Brooklyn to ring in the annual West Indian American Day Parade.

The J'Ouvert celebration, which has been marred by violence in the past, was held without incident on Monday.

The fatal shooting in Brownsville incident was the second in the past several days involving a man taking aim at police officers who were attempting to stop him.

Last Friday, a gunman in Jamaica, Queens, was killed by police after he fired at officers seeking to question him about a gang-related shooting.

 
 
 

In a Monday news conference, chief Terence Monahan of the New York City Police Department said that the Labour Day shoot-out in Brownsville began when police officers saw the masked man, in his 30s, during a regular overnight patrol.

"He had his face covered walking down the street, which is kind of suspicious on a warm evening," Mr Monahan said. "So they went to stop him. He immediately ran."

By the time the encounter had ended, seven officers had fired at the masked gunman, one returning fire on the street near the intersection of Howard and Dumont avenues in the initial encounter, and six more in the backyard shoot-out.

A video taken by a photographer for PIX11 news showed a large police presence in the area when the backyard gun battle began. Police officers ducked for cover as dozens of shots rang out. Mr Monahan estimated that officers had fired a total of 64 bullets.

Mr Israel Morris, 70, who lives near the corner of Howard and Dumont, said he was awakened by helicopters flying over his neighbourhood and "countless" lights of police cars flashing and officers at the scene.

"I heard five or six shots and helicopters flying over all night," Mr Morris said.

Mr Nigel Brown, 50, who also lives in Howard Avenue, said that while shootings in the area are not uncommon, this was the first time a shooting-related death happened at his block.

"I thought they were firecrackers, but now I'm realising they were gunshots," he said.

 
 
 

The police said the Brownsville gunman, whose identity was not released, was pronounced dead at Brookdale Hospital, and a semi-automatic handgun was recovered from the scene.

Roughly three miles (4.8km) away, police officers responded to a Newkirk Avenue address in Flatbush and found the 50-year-old dead woman, a 45-year-old man with gunshots to the chest and a third man, 27, bleeding from a stab wound to the chest.

The two injured men were transported to Kings County Hospital in critical condition.

In Bushwick, a man identified by the police as Mr Daniel Collado was shot in the torso at 3.48am in the vicinity of Weirfield Street and Irving Avenue, the police said. He later died at Wyckoff Heights Medical Centre.

Less than an hour later, in Richmond Hills, Queens, three men in a white BMW fired shots at three men leaving the Mazi Nightclub in 91st Avenue.

Of the three men targeted, one, aged 35, was killed; the second, a 28-year-old, was in critical condition at Jamaica Hospital Medical Centre with a gunshot wound to the torso; and the third, 27, shot in both legs, was in stable condition at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the police said.

No arrests have been made in the Bushwick, Flatbush or Richmond Hill shootings, the police said. And all of the shootings remained under investigation.