NYPD cop shot in arm released from hospital; gunman identified as gang member
An NYPD cop wounded in a wild Washington Heights shootout was released from the hospital Friday as more was revealed about the gunman who was shot dead.
With his wife by his side, Police Officer Justin Vartanian walked out of Mount Sinai/St. Luke’s Hospital, humbly smiling at scores of cops who lined the streets to cheer him on.
As the NYPD Pipes and Drums band played outside the Upper West Side hospital, Vartanian, sporting an NYPD jacket over a New York Mets shirt and a baseball cap, walked to an awaiting unmarked patrol car that took him to his home in Suffolk County, Long Island.
Vartanian, an anti-crime cop at the 34th Precinct, was struck in the right armpit during a clash at a parking lot on W. 187th St. and Wadsworth Ave. with Luiz Leizado.
Leizado, 42, who goes by the nickname Murphy Brown, was allegedly firing into the air at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday when he ran into the lot as police arrived.
As Vartanian sought cover behind a car in the lot, Leizado fired three rounds at him, hitting the cop in the armpit.
Vartanian fired back, striking and killing Leizado.
Standing outside the hospital Friday, Pat Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, said the work cops do is “thankless,” but officers like Vartanian do it anyway.
“These police officers, they all stand out here — we cheer, we clap, we hoot, we holler,” he said, referring to the cheering cops behind him. “We do that for a reason: to show him, we love ya. We understand what you’re about, and show his family, we know you worry when he goes to work — but we got him.”
As Vartanian returned home, more was coming out about the man he fatally shot.
Leizado is an alleged gang member with ties to the Trinitarios who was suspected of taking part in a non-fatal shooting in Brooklyn in 2005, a source with knowledge of the case said.
He did two stints in state prison: two years for an assault conviction in Brooklyn between 2006 to 2008 and one year beginning in 2013 after he was convicted of attempted drug and weapons possession, officials said.
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