Officer saved by ammunition clip from bullet

February 27, 2012 2:17:28 PM PST
A New York City police officer narrowly escaped serious injury and a suspect was wounded during a gun battle on the Lower East Side.

"Thank God, we have another miracle," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly spoke about yet another officer's all too close call.

The "miracle" in question came during a running gun battle between police and a suspect outside the Baruch Houses about 1:45 a.m.

"So many shots. It sounded like six or seven people shooting at each other and it was on going, and it just wouldn't stop," said Sellers Washington, a Lower East Side resident.

The NYPD released a photo of the 9mm handgun 25-year-old Luis Martinez allegedly used to fire repeatedly at two officers intending to question him.

One of the bullets hit officer Thomas Richards on his ammunition pouch that he was wearing around his waist.

The bullet was stopped by a now dented magazine clip.

"If it had been up an inch, it would have been right into the officer's body," Commissioner Kelly said.

But, police say Richards and his partner, Officer Thomas Dunne, still didn't give up the chase and continued to exchange gunfire with an on the run Martinez.

The suspect was eventually hit in the leg, leaving a trail of blood for police to follow all the way to his 6th floor apartment where he was finally arrested.

Investigators spent most of the day Monday working the scene, looking for shell casings, and reconstructing the overnight shootout.

All the while, they were very much aware that luck had once again favored one of their own.

"Yes, we've been extremely lucky, but we don't want our luck to run out," Kelly said.

Both officers were examined and released from Beth Israel Hospital Monday morning. Martinez was transported to Bellevue Hospital where he remains in stable condition.

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