A rookie NYPD cop is recovering in the hospital after police say he was shot in both legs by a man who tried to board a bus without paying.
Officer James Li is in stable condition at Kings County Hospital.
Around 5 p.m. Wednesday, Li and his partner, fellow rookie Officer Randy Chow, were on patrol in Brooklyn when they saw two men get on a B-46 bus through the rear door, police said.
When Li and Chow tried to take the men off the bus, one of them took off on foot, police said. The man then pulled out a gun, turned and fired at the officers, police said.
“I heard a lot of gun shots,” said witness James Zitis. “I ran out. I see people running towards White Castle and I ran out there and there was a cop down.”
Li went down, but his partner kept up the chase and transmitted a call for assistance.
“Police Officer Chow immediately pursued the perp,” Police Chief of Department Philip Banks said.
Several bystanders, including two veteran EMTs, Khadija Hall and Shaun Alexander, rushed to help Li. They were off-duty in a car when they heard shots and saw Li down in the street.
Witnesses directed police to the suspect, who was found hiding on the fifth floor of a nearby apartment building.
Investigators identified him as 28-year-old Rashawn Robinson of Brooklyn.
A Smith & Wesson .45-caliber handgun was found at the scene and ballistics tests showed that the gun matched up to shell casings at the scene, Banks said.
“A dangerous felon (is) now off the street and a firearm off the street, all as a result of very good police work by two rookie police officers,” Commissioner Bill Bratton said.
Robinson’s rap sheet includes six prior arrests and there’s currently a warrant for his arrest in Pennsylvania on suspicion of manufacturing and distributing narcotics, police said. His last arrest in New York City was for narcotics as well.
The second suspect who tried to get on the bus without paying remained at large Wednesday night, police said.
In a news conference at Kings County Hospital Wednesday evening, Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed gratitude to the good Samaritans who rushed in to help.
“We’re so proud of the men and women of the NYPD and what they do every day,” de Blasio said. “We’re also proud when our fellow citizens stand up and do the right thing and help the police to do their job.”
Li is the first NYPD officer to be shot this year and the first to be shot under the new administration of de Blasio and Bratton.
Li and Chow were both graduates of the most recent Police Academy class in December and were on an Operation Impact assignment to watch over city buses, police said.