New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the same gunman is responsible for back-to-back shootings targeting NYPD officers.
The suspect, identified as Robert Williams, 45, of the Bronx, initially approached a marked police van just before 8:30 p.m. Saturday. While asking the officers for directions, Williams brandished a weapon “without provocation,” and fired shots, according to Shea.
The officer at the wheel of the van, Paul Stroffolino, was grazed in the chin and neck, narrowly missing an artery. Stroffolino’s partner, Brian Hanlon, moved to the driver’s seat and drove the injured officer to Lincoln Hospital.
Police released a photo of the suspect and were combing the city for him when he walked into the 41st Precinct, located at 1035 Longwood Avenue an drew a 9mm handgun. Williams fired numerous rounds toward the desk area, striking Lt. Jose Gautreaux in his upper left arm. Gautreaux returned fire but did not strike the suspect.
Williams continued to fire multiple rounds "at point-blank range" into the room, but did not hit anyone, according to Shea. Only when his gun jammed did the gunman lay down on the ground and surrender, according to witnesses.
Officer Stroffolino was released from the hospital Sunday to applause from colleagues. Officer Gautreaux was in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery.
"It is only by the grace of God and the heroic actions of those inside the building that took him into custody that we are not talking about police officers murdered inside a New York City police precinct,” Shea stated.
At a news conference, Shea called Williams a “coward” and stated: "[The suspect] has a lengthy violent criminal history. He was paroled in 2017 for an incident in which an individual in the Bronx was shot; a subsequent carjacking of a female; and then a crash of a car where he engaged in a gunfight with members of the New York City Police Department. That was in 2002. He was convicted of attempted murder and was paroled in 2017, after serving 15 years of an 18-year prison sentence."
The commissioner also lashed out at the activists who have demonstrated against police in recent months, including a large protest in Grand Central Terminal. The protests, Shea suggested, helped create an anti-police environment.
“These things are not unrelated. We had people marching through the streets of New York City recently,” Shea said. “Words matter. And words affect people's behavior.”
President Trump condemned the shootings in a tweet early Sunday, stating: “I grew up in New York City and, over many years, got to watch how GREAT NYC’s ‘Finest’ are. Now, because of weak leadership at Governor & Mayor, stand away (water thrown at them) regulations, and lack of support, our wonderful NYC police are under assault,” Trump wrote. “Stop this now!”