A New York City police officer who is part of a unit that works to get guns off the streets was shot Tuesday night in the lower back by a man whom the officer had been chasing in the Bronx, the police said.
The 31-year-old plainclothes officer was wearing a bulletproof vest, but was struck once below his vest, Dermot F. Shea, the police commissioner, said during a news conference at Jacobi Medical Center early Wednesday morning. The officer, a member of the Gun Violence Suppression Division, was in stable condition at the hospital.
The commissioner said that the officer was expected to survive, but was in significant pain.
Mr. Shea said the violent encounter unfolded quickly. The officer was driving on Lafayette Avenue toward White Plains Road about 10:30 p.m. when he spotted a man whom he attempted to stop, Mr. Shea said. And “within minutes, within seconds, they were in a gunfight,” he said.
The commissioner said that the armed man fired four shots and that the officer fired once during the confrontation.
The suspect, a 24-year-old man with several prior arrests in New York and New Jersey, was taken into custody, police officials said. A gun was recovered under a car after the shooting, which took place in the Soundview section of the Bronx, the authorities said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the officer, a six-and-a-half-year veteran of the New York Police Department, in the hospital. “Everyone, tonight we saw extraordinary bravery,” Mr. de Blasio said at the news conference early Wednesday. “It takes a very special person to go out on the streets at night and take a gun off a criminal.”
The mayor said many of the officer’s relatives have served in the Police Department.
“He’s someone who goes out and puts his life on the line to protect other people in the most powerful way, by depriving criminals of their firearms,” Mr. de Blasio said. “Anyone who wants an example of how hard the N.Y.P.D. works, how committed our officers are, you see it this evening in the Bronx.”
Police officers in riot gear canvassed the area, which is near the Bruckner Expressway.
This is the third shooting of New York City police officers in three months. In November, two officers sustained injuries that were not life-threatening when they were shot in Queens. The gunman was killed.
The following month, on Christmas Eve, a police officer in Brooklyn was shot after responding to a call about domestic violence. The officer was saved by the bulletproof vest he was wearing, officials said.
An unrelenting crime wave has plagued New Yorkers since the pandemic arrived in New York. Citywide, shootings have doubled in 2020 over the previous year, climbing to 1,531, and murders rose 44 percent to 462, a trend that has shown few signs of slowing down in recent weeks, according to police statistics.
Police officials have blamed much of the last year’s gun violence on a deadly combination of a thriving black market in firearms and escalating street feuds, made worse by the pandemic and its attendant economic decline.
Police officials say the department has had trouble curbing gang feuds, in part because its resources have been strained by budget cuts and, last summer, by large-scale protests against police brutality.
Patrick J. Lynch, the longtime president of the city’s largest police union, voiced his frustration at the news conference over the spate of attacks on police.
“It seems like people are getting numb to the fact that cops are getting shot,” Mr. Lynch said.
The Rev. Oswald Denis, a Bronx pastor who has been protesting the increase in violence since gun killings began spiking early last summer, said he first rushed to the scene and found dozens of armed officers canvassing the surrounding areas looking for clues. After he surveyed the scene, which he described as “chaotic,” he headed to Jacobi Medical Center to pray for the officer who was wounded.
“From what I understand, he lost a lot of blood and by the grace of God he will survive,” he said. “I am here. We are a huge family and we stand together, not just with the N.Y.P.D. but with victims. We are for victims against violence as a whole.”
Adam Farence contributed reporting.