Bronx Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs) were recognized at CompStat for arresting an armed perpetrator in a stolen vehicle with a two-year-old child on board. The incident unfolded in front of a middle school during dismissal time. The officers’ bravery and restraint under extremely dangerous circumstances serves as an exceptional example of how the Neighborhood Policing model is, at its core, a crime fighting model.
While on duty in the 46 Precinct, Detective Cruz and Officer Markvukaj responded to a shooting in a restaurant on Jerome Avenue. On their way to the scene, additional calls came over their department radio about an armed man on a bus only a few blocks away from the original call. Detective Cruz and Officer Markvukaj responded to the bus’ last known location in an attempt to intercept the perpetrator.
At the bus stop, witnesses informed the officers that a few moments earlier a man had boarded the bus while brandishing his firearm. During the chaos an 83-year-old woman sustained lacerations on the back of her head. The witnesses also warned the officers that the perpetrator had continued southbound on Walton Avenue and had fired shots in their direction in order to discourage anyone from following him.
As the officers continued to track down the suspect in their vehicle, they saw a group of people surrounding a minivan. When the officers approached, the minivan sped off. Detective Cruz recalls what happened next:
“The owner of the carjacked vehicle ran up to me and said ‘my brother is in the backseat’.”
With the safety of the involuntary passenger in mind, the officers pursued the vehicle. After driving for about two blocks, the perpetrator was unable to advance due to traffic congestion. Detective Cruz and Officer Markvukaj seized this opportunity and closed in on the vehicle. Detective Cruz approached the vehicle on the driver’s side while Police Officer Markvukaj approached on the passenger side. As they tactfully approached, the perpetrator stuck his firearm out of the window. Detective Cruz described his subsequent actions:
“I was so close to the driver’s side that I was able to grab his wrist and disarm him.”
The officers proceeded to arrest the perpetrator without incident. The officers then carefully approached the child and safely removed him from the vehicle. Thankfully, he was uninjured in the incident. Detective Cruz and Police Officer Markvukaj’s use of their training and tactically sound approach undoubtedly saved lives.