‘Miracle’: NYPD cop survives wild shootout when his gun belt deflects suspect’s bullet

‘Miracle’: NYPD cop survives wild shootout when his gun belt deflects suspect’s bullet



Alleged gunman is wounded & busted after chase






By Rocco Parascandola, Henrick Karoliszyn

      Anna Russell AND Corky Siemaszko

 Monday, February 27, 2012

Police investigate shooting ouside 64 Baruch Drive on the lower East Side.
Danny Iudici/Danny Iudici
Police investigate shooting ouside 64 Baruch Drive on the lower East Side.
A city cop was saved by his belt Monday when a shot fired by a man with a golden gun bounced off his ammunition magazine and lodged in a pouch, police said.

Officer Thomas Richards (right) and his partner, Officer Thomas Dunne, were involved in a gun battle with a suspect.



Gun allegedly used by suspect  Luis Martinez's was recovered from his building’s trash compactor.

Gun allegedly used by suspect Luis Martinez’s was recovered from his building’s trash compactor.



The gun clip that saved Officer Thomas Richards’ life.



Officer Thomas Richards’ close call prompted Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to pronounce the incident “another miracle.”

“An inch either way, it would have been right in his stomach,” Kelly said on WOR-AM. “We’re happy about that, but it’s just an indication of what officers face on a daily basis.”

Out in Mount Sinai, L.I., the father of Officer Thomas Dunne Jr., Richards’ partner, was also breathing a sigh of relief.

“He called me this morning about 6 o’clock,” said Thomas Dunne Sr. “He knows that we pace the floor when we hear on the news that an officer is shot. He didn’t want to wake us up in the middle of the night.”

The proud pop, who said his son has been on the job for seven years and is a new dad himself, said “my son couldn’t tell me much about what happened.”

“All I know is that I am glad he was there to save his partner,” Dunne Sr. said.

The wild gun battle erupted at 1:44 a.m. while Richards and Dunne, both assigned to Police Service Area 4 in Manhattan, were patrolling the Baruch Houses on the lower East Side.

They spotted a man, identified as 25-year-old Luis Martinez, acting suspiciously in front of a closed drug store on Columbia St.

When the officers went over to him, Martinez muttered something and opened fire “striking Richards in his ammunition belt,” Kelly said.

“It was a very close call for Officer Richards,” he said. “The magazine may have well saved his life.”

Richards and Dunne returned fire and took off after Martinez, Kelly said.

“I saw the guy shoot at one officer, who ducked, and they kept chasing him,” said a 48-year-old witness named Evelyn, who declined to give her last name. “It was like a movie. I couldn’t believe the officers kept going after him because he kept shooting.”

About 200 feet from 64 Baruch Drive, Martinez stopped, turned and fired again at Richards and Dunne, Kelly said. The officers took cover and returned fire.

“It sounded like a big gun battle,” said Millie Rodriguez, 44, who lives in the complex. “You heard it go back and forth like a war.”

Martinez took off running and when he got to 64 Baruch Drive he fired a third time, Kelly said.

This time, one of the officers’ shots hit Martinez in the upper right leg, Kelly said.

Instead of surrendering, Martinez ducked inside the building and Emergency Service Unit cops who joined in the pursuit were able to follow a trail of blood to the suspect’s apartment, where he was arrested, Kelly said.

Martinez’s 9-mm. Taurus handgun, which appeared to have a gold paint job, was recovered from the building’s trash compactor, cops said. He was in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital and charges against him were pending.

Kelly said he met with both Richards, 36, and Dunne, 30, and that they were in good spirits. It was the fourth time a city cop was shot in two months. One officer, Peter Figoski, was killed.

Thomas Dunne Sr. said his son wanted to be a cop “from the time he was small.” He enlisted in the Marines after graduating from Centereach High School and was a military police officer based at Quantico before joining the NYPD.

“He loves it,” the relieved dad said.

Dunne and his wife, Christi, have a 5-month-old son named Jaxson Thomas Dunne.

“My first grandchild,” Thomas Dunne Sr. said proudly. “My son is Giants fan, loves working out, has lots of friends everywhere. He’s done everything he wanted to do.”


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