Cop uses smartphone to save suicidal woman, infant daughter

Michelle Schack worked quickly to prevent the woman from buying a gun and using to harm herself and her daughter

Rocco Parascandola
New York Daily News

CANARSIE, N.Y. — A quick-thinking Brooklyn cop Friday helped prevent a depressed new mother from killing herself and her infant daughter, police said.

Officer Michelle Schack used her smartphone to track the woman on the Verrazzano Bridge, Google to find the Pennsylvania gun shop where she thought the woman might go to buy a weapon, and her wits to convince the store owner her call was not a prank.

Using a smartphone, Google and some quick thinking, Officer Michelle Schack was able to prevent a mother from taking her life and her daughter's.
Using a smartphone, Google and some quick thinking, Officer Michelle Schack was able to prevent a mother from taking her life and her daughter's. (Photo/NYPD)

Schack and her partner, Officer Gulrej Nandha, responded about 11:25 a.m. to the Bayview Houses in Canarsie.

There a frantic 43-year-old woman — who was visiting relatives — told them her 27-year-old daughter, who suffers from post-partum depression, had sent out alarming texts: she wanted to kill herself and her 6-month-old daughter.

“She took her out of day care and she’s not answering the phone,” Schack said. “They didn’t know where she went.”

The cops gleaned critical information from the 43-year-old grandma — she, her daughter and her granddaughter live in Pennsylvania and visit family in Brooklyn often.

“All I’m thinking is, time is of the essence and we have to stop this somehow,” Schack recounted.

So the officer pulled out her smartphone and typed the license plate of the despondent woman’s car into a database accessible to law enforcement.

A license plate reader flagged the car on the Verrazano Bridge, a likely indication she was heading west to Pennsylvania.

Then the officers Googled gun shops near the family’s home in Henryville, about 115 miles from Brooklyn.

Michael Conforti, the owner of Pocono Mountain Firearms, got the first call. “I thought it was a prank,” he said.

It wasn’t — and two minutes later, a woman walked in. She was accompanied to the store by her daughter.

The woman said she wanted to buy a gun, and began to fill out the necessary paperwork. “She had the look of a person that was very down.” Confirti said.

While the woman was in the store, Conforti got another call from the NYPD that gave him a description of the woman’s car, a Hyundai Tuscon, and its license plate.

Conforti realized the woman the NYPD was alerting him about was the same woman in his store. He called for help, and minutes later officers from the Pocono Mountain Regional Police showed up.

Conforti said the officers took the woman outside and persuaded her to let them help. She was undergoing a psychiatric exam Friday, and her daughter was not harmed.

“I’m glad it worked out, and I’m very happy the child is going to have a better life because of this,” Conforti said.

Back in Brooklyn, Officer Schack was overcome with happiness at the outcome of the incident.

“When I heard everyone was safe it was amazing,” she said, adding that thanks she got from the grandmother and other family members were special. “They were saying, ‘You two went above and beyond ... It was amazing what you did.’"

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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