Brooklyn, NY – A retired New York police officer was shot in the chest while protecting an 86-year-old man who was being harassed at a pizzeria on Monday night.
The incident began at approximately 7:15 p.m., when a 33-year-old suspect got into a verbal argument with the elderly man inside a pizzeria located near Church Avenue and East 3rd Street, WPIX reported.
Retired 57-year-old New York Police Officer Thomas Marrinan and his friend, a 53-year-old retired corrections officer, were sitting outside Korner Pizza when the dispute erupted, according to the New York Daily News.
Witnesses said the suspect was a known drug user and that he was harassing the 86-year-old man.
One witness described the suspect as “the crackhead,” the New York Daily News reported.
Sources identified Marrinan’s friend as 53-year-old retired corrections officer Robert Velasquez, and said the senior citizen who was being harassed is Velasquez’s father, the New York Post reported.
They also identified the suspect as 33-year-old Michael Soto.
Witnesses told WCBS Soto was intoxicated at the time of the incident.
When the retired officer and his friend stepped in to protect the senior citizen, the suspect began fighting with them, New York Police Department (NYPD) Detective Borough Brooklyn South Commanding Officer Deputy Chief Joseph Gulotta told the New York Daily News.
Denzel Smith, 69, said he was waiting for the bus and saw the incident unfold.
“They were arguing with the younger guy in the street,” Smith told the New York Daily News. “The guy said, ‘I’m going to get you. I’m going to shoot you.’ The other guy said, ‘I’m a retired cop.”
During the ensuing physical altercation between Marrinan and the suspect, the retired correction officer pulled his gun, resulting in Soto trying to take it from him, WCBS reported.
A single round was fired during the brawl.
The bullet hit the suspect in the arm, but it also hit the retired NYPD officer in his chest, the New York Daily News reported.
Marrinan’s wife was at the scene and immediately ran to her husband, begging him not to die, WCBS reported.
“He falls down on the floor and his wife came running,” witness Sam Saied told the news outlet. “She was hugging him, ‘Tom, Tom, Tom!’”
“The police were pumping Thomas, saying, ‘Wake up! Wake up!’ He wasn’t responding,” witness Regina Uddin told the New York Daily News. “The other guy was sitting there handcuffed. The crackhead was shot in the arm, and the cops dragged him to an ambulance.”
Marrinan and the suspect were both rushed to Maimonides Hospital, where the retired officer succumbed to his gunshot wound, the New York Daily News reported.
The suspect’s condition has not been released.
The investigation into the incident remained ongoing on Tuesday morning, WPIX reported.
Witnesses said Marrinan was a regular customer at the pizzeria where the fatal incident occurred.
“Thomas is a sweet guy,” Uddin told the New York Daily News. “I tell him all my problems. I can’t believe what happened.”
His longtime friend, 78-year-old retired banker Alan Dubrow, said Marrinan “was always looking out for the neighborhood.”
Dubrow said Marrinan was a union delegate and a retired transit officer, the New York Daily News reported.
“He was known as Tommy Donuts, because everywhere he went, he brought donuts,” he said.
Marrinan began serving the NYPD Transit District 30 in Brooklyn in 1992, the New York Daily News reported.
He retired from the force in 2013.