2 bystanders hit by crossfire in NYPD gun battle
Officer Juan Gomez, 30, fired at robbery suspect Edwin Castillo-Concepcion 27 times — and had to stop once to reload, said sources
By Rocco Parascandola , Wes Parnell and John Annese
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — The bullets that struck two innocent bystanders in Wednesday’s wild Bronx shootout came from an NYPD officer’s gun, police sources revealed Thursday.
Officer Juan Gomez, 30, fired at robbery suspect Edwin Castillo-Concepcion 27 times — and had to stop once to reload, said sources.
Castillo-Concepcion shot twice as he fled down Loring Place North and W. Fordham Rd. in University Heights, the sources said.
A bullet from Gomez’s 9-mm service weapon hit 46-year-old Rosana Urena in the side, while fragments from another of the officer’s bullets tore into 12-year-old Gabriel Hayes’ leg as she was walking with her mom, sources said.
Castillo-Concepcion, 37, survived a bullet through his neck. He’s charged with attempted murder and weapon possession.
Urena, a mother of three, moved to New York from the Dominican Republic with her mom less than two months ago, said her friend, Lizbeth Perez.
“She was with a kid that she was taking care of when it happened,” Perez said. “When she got shot she yelled, ‘Mom I’m going to die!’ and threw the kid out of the way.”
Urena’s mom experienced a spike in her blood pressure after the shooting, and she needed to be hospitalized as well, another family friend said.
Investigators are still evaluating the tactics used by Gomez, who’s been on the force for five years, as well as those of his partners. But two high-ranking police officials pointed out that the suspect had already fired a shot at civilians, and was shooting at the officer during the chase.
“He shot at the people he robs, that’s a gunpoint robbery. He then takes what looks like a kilo of narcotics from them,” said one official. “When the officer is pursuing him, he’s firing at a police officer multiple times after firing at civilians, and he’s got a large quantity of drugs on him. So both of those things are obviously very troubling.”
Castillo-Concepcion, who was toting a .25-caliber handgun, had just robbed two drug dealers in the lobby of a building on W. 183rd St. just before 6:10 p.m., oblivious to the presence of Gomez and his partner, Brandon Gambecki, 31, who were both in plain clothes and were patrolling a half-block away, sources said.
Castillo-Concepcion fired a shot at the dealers — but the officers didn’t hear it, sources said.
Castillo-Concepcion came running out of the building. “He’s got a bag. He’s holding it close to his waist and he’s concealing his face,” one source said.
Gomez jumped out of the officers’ car, while Gambecki, an eight-year veteran, pulled into reverse and radioed for help, sources said.Both officers wore body-camera, but neither turned them on.
“(Gambecki) says he did not activate his camera because he immediately tried to reverse the car to back up his partner, who was being fired upon,” said a source. “He was working the radio, putting out a request for assistance and the fact that shots had been fired. In short he just never got a chance to activate it with all that he was caught up in doing.”
After he was shot, Castillo-Concepcion fell in front of a sports bar on W. Fordham Rd.
Police recovered the gun, along with a brick of white powder, believed to be cocaine or heroin, in a red backpack.
The dealers fled after the robbery, and police are still trying to identify them.
On Thursday morning, the NYPD deployed one of its drones — the first time the department has used the new technology — to take aerial photos of the crime scene, sources said.
“It’s really bad because it hurts the neighborhood. It’s not good for the Bronx either,” said Joel Hidalgo, 24, who’s lived in the neighborhood since 2003. “A man shouldn’t let his life reach such a terrible place that he is carrying and gun, an illegal gun I assume, and hurting people…. Think about it. A kid could have been killed.”
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