Immigration probes cop shooting suspect

October 22, 2008 6:03:25 PM PDT
Federal immigration officials on Wednesday said they were investigating how a man deported a decade ago after a drug arrest re-entered the U.S. and ended up in a subway shootout with police officers. The man, Raul Nunez, illegally used a child's student fare payment card to enter a Queens subway station during Tuesday evening's rush hour, police said. Two plainclothes transit officers tried to arrest him, and in a struggle he grabbed one of their guns before shooting them, police said.

Nunez, who is from the Dominican Republic, reportedly told authorities he resisted because he was afraid he'd be deported again if he were arrested.

Nunez, 32, was deported June 24, 1998, by an immigration judge after a drug arrest in New York. He was charged in Manhattan with selling cocaine to an undercover officer in 1997, and he had a drug conviction in 1996. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents say they're not sure when he re-entered the country.

Officer Shane Farina, who was shot near his sternum and suffered a fractured rib, remained in critical but stable condition Wednesday after undergoing surgery. Officer Jason Maass, who was shot in the lower back, was released early Wednesday from a hospital. The officers were wearing bulletproof vests protecting their chests, police said.

Farina, 38, joined the police department four years ago. Maass, 28, has been an officer with the department since 2006.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly visited Farina on Wednesday and said doctors were optimistic about his recovery.

"He feels lucky," Kelly said. "He seems to be in good spirits."

Nunez was shot twice in the left leg and once in the torso and right leg by a nearby lieutenant as he tried to run away, police said. He was hospitalized; it wasn't immediately clear what his condition was Wednesday.

He was awaiting arraignment on charges of attempted murder. He remained in police custody, and there was no telephone listing for him.

Federal immigration officials said Nunez also was facing a charge of re-entering the country after deportation.

Nunez would face 25 years to life in prison and deportation if convicted.

The incident began around 5:15 p.m. at a station on the F line. Nunez entered the station by swiping a student MetroCard he wasn't authorized to use, setting off a warning light near the turnstile, police said.

Lt. Gary Abrahall, who was in a booth in the station's upper level, noticed the light and radioed Farina and Maass, who were below on the Manhattan-bound platform where Nunez was, they said.

Farina and Maass approached Nunez, identified themselves as officers and got one handcuff on him when he began resisting, police said.

During the struggle, Nunez grabbed one officer's gun and fired at both of them as they lay on the ground, police said. Nunez ran away, taking an escalator to the upper level, where Abrahall confronted him, they said.

Nunez fired three more times before Abrahall fired six shots, hitting Nunez four times, they said.

It was unclear if the gun Nunez used was taken out of a holster or if it was knocked out by him in the struggle, police said.

There have been about 52,000 subway fare evasions since January, and annually there are about 80,000, transit officials said.

There are more than a dozen types of student MetroCards. Some are half-fare, others are full fare, night school only and high school. Most allow for three rides a day.

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