Officer shot in the Bronx remains in stable condition

A NYPD officer was seriously wounded after police said a suspect opened fire on him in the Bronx.

March 23, 2010 1:23:23 PM PDT
The NYPD officer shot while responding to a 911 call of a gun-wielding suspect on Monday, remained hospitalized in "good spirits."Officer Robert Salerno, 25, was hit three times inside the Morrisania Air Rights houses at 3073 Park Avenue just before 12:30 p.m.

The three-year veteran will be hospitalized for a while after he was shot while responding to the emergency call, made by a home health aide, of a dispute involving a man with a gun.

On Tuesday, Salerno was able to write that three fellow officers put themselves in the line of fire to pull him to safety.

Salerno explained in the handwritten notes that the three officers had to go in front of him, and literally in the path of oncoming bullets, to rescue him from the gunfire.

Salerno drew Police Commissioner Ray Kelly a sketch of the bedroom to show how the other officers were on one side of door and he was on the other.

Authorities say Salerno and three other officers from the 44th precinct were met by the aide in the lobby of the building. She told them that a man with a gun slapped her in the apartment where she was caring for an elderly resident.

The suspect was identified as Santiago Urena. The officers then went to the apartment accompanied by Urena's brother.

Urena was located inside a bedroom in the apartment. When officers went to the bedroom and opened the door, police said Urena started shooting, firing four shots.

Officer Salerno was struck twice in the lower torso and once in the right chest. A bullet-resistant vest stopped the bullet to the chest.

The officers returned fire, 21 shots in all, and then retreated to take Officer Salerno to the hospital.

A short time later, other officers converged on the apartment and found Urena dead in the bedroom.

Police said Urena was shot three times -- once in the right shoulder, in the abdomen, and over his temple.

The medical examiner says Urena was killed by the volley of return fire, not a self-inflicted gunshot. Authorities initially said it was possible that he turned the gun on himself because he had a head wound, but the medical examiner said Tuesday that Urena did not shoot himself.

Because of the shot to the head, some initially speculated the suspect's death was a possible suicide. However, police officials are waiting for the autopsy and not excluding the possibility he was shot by police.

Neighbors say Urina's father recently died and his mother was very ill.

They say the family is from the Dominican Republic.

"It's very shocking. Totally shocked. You would expect that from another family, not them," one said.

Urena's gun is still being traced and tested.