Manhattan, NY – Cell phone video showed a bystander encouraging a Trinitarios gang member to keep shooting at New York police officers on Thursday during a gun battle that had already left one officer wounded (video below).
“F–k ‘em! Shoot the cops!” the belligerent man yelled in the video, as the officers ordered the suspect to put down his weapon. “Don’t give up! Shoot all them n—as!”
The incident began just before 4:30 p.m. on April 18 after officers received reports of gunfire in the area of Wadsworth Avenue and 187th Street, WCBS reported.
New York Police Officer Justin Vartanian, 34, was one of multiple officers who rushed to the area on foot, according to Newsday.
The plainclothes officer spotted a man holding a weapon, and chased him to a parking lot on Broadway.
The gunman, later identified as 42-year-old Trinitarios gang member Luis Leizado, ducked down behind a parked vehicle, and opened fire on the pursuing officer.
“The suspect then fired three rounds at the police officer, who was struck in the right armpit,” New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said during a press conference. “The wounded officer fires back one time.”
Another New York Police Department (NYPD) officer drove his unmarked car into the lot as the shootout was underway and was nearly hit by one of Leizado’s rounds.
The bullet sailed past him and impacted the windshield of the unmarked unit.
The second officer fired three rounds, and struck the gunman in the chest.
A bystander’s cell phone video showed additional officers as they arrived at the scene, while the bystander egged the gunman on from across the street, the New York Post reported.
“Nah, don’t give up – shoot more of them f–kers!” the man shouted. “Shoot n—a! Shoot them cops!”
At one point in the video, the man announced that he hoped the officers wouldn’t survive the encounter.
“I hope y’all die!” he yelled at the officers, just before he ordered the gunman to “Shoot back!”
Using a loudspeaker, police ordered Leizado to put down his weapon and to come out with his hands raised.
“Nah, don’t drop it,” the bystander countered. “Shoot them n—as.”
According to the New York Post, police later shared the video to social media “to let everyone know what a piece of s–t -sshole this guy is.”
“Let’s make this outstanding piece of s–t famous,” one post read, according to the paper.
Leizado, a convicted felon who served time for assault and attempted drug and weapons possession offenses, died of his gunshot wounds, the New York Daily News reported.
Police recovered his weapon at the scene, according to WCBS.
Officer Vartanian, a five-and-one-half-year veteran of the NYPD, was rushed to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital with a gunshot wound to his armpit.
The next day, he walked out of the hospital, hand-in-hand with his wife, while his fellow officers cheered and bagpipes played.
He is expected to make a full recovery.
“Today we saw a bad situation turn great, where this police officer walked out hand in hand with his wife, with his mother in tears behind them – tears of joy, because they get to go home today, because that doesn’t always happen,” Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said.
“These police officers, they all stand out here — we cheer, we clap, we hoot, we holler,” Lynch explained during the celebration outside the hospital, according to the New York Daily News. “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.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the dozens of officers who charged towards the sound of gunfire during the shootout, Newsday reported.
“[They] did everything right,” de Blasio said. “This was a fast, intense episode. Thank God it came out the way it did.”
You can watch footage of the bystander’s antics in the video below. WARNING – Graphic content and language.