NYPD officer stable after being shot in back in Bronx; suspect in custody

SOUNDVIEW, Bronx (WABC) -- A plainclothes police officer was struck in a shootout with a suspect spotted in New York City Tuesday night as officers investigated a past shooting.

New security video shows how the intersection in the Soundview section of the Bronx turned into a major crime scene with an NYPD officer shot.

31-year-old Officer Daniel Vargas was shot after members of the Gun Violence Suppression Division saw the man on Lafayette Avenue near White Plains Road just before 10:30 p.m.

The four cops riding in that unmarked car spotted the suspect Ajani Jones who immediately took off running. The officers made a U-turn and followed.

Once under the scaffolding on Lafayette Ave, officials say the officers got out and chased the 24-year-old who they say pulled at a weapon and fired four shots.

One bullet hit Officer Vargas in the back, just below his protective vest.

Vargas fired once, but the 24-year-old suspect was not hit.

"Within minutes, within seconds, they were in a gunfight," Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said.

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An NYPD officer was shot in the back in the Bronx Tuesday night, according to police.



Witness Alicia Johnson commends the officers for what they did next.

"They called out who they were and they told him to get down," Johnson said. "He got down and they took him into custody."

Vargas was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center by fellow officers, where he was in stable condition.

"He is in a lot of pain, but thankfully we expect him to make a full recovery," Shea said.

"It looks like he's going to make a very strong recovery. So we are counting our blessings tonight," Mayor de Blasio added.

The six-and-a-half-year veteran officer, whom the mayor called "a proud son of the Bronx," was surrounded by family at the hospital, many of them police officers themselves.
"They are very upset. They are very upset," Shea said. "But at the same time, they realize - probably an element of shock - how it could have been very different."

Shea says this is yet another example of the skyrocketing number of gun arrests police are making.

So far this year, 417 arrests -- a 75 percent increase from the same time last year, about 16 gun arrests each day.

We need help in terms of legislative fixes," Shea said. "We need judges to keep dangerous people off the streets."

The suspect, whose gun was recovered on the ground at the scene, was taken into custody.

Jones is from the Bronx, with prior arrests in New York City and New Jersey.

He has been charged with attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of stolen property.

Sources tell Eyewitness News the plain clothes officers were actually looking for the suspect's brother. They wanted to talk with him about his role in a shooting.

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A bullet from the shootout struck the rear right side of an MTA bus as it traveled through the area.

No passengers were on the bus and the bus driver was not hurt.

The bus became part of the crime scene. Police pulled the cameras on the bus, which show some of the shooting.

The officers involved in last night's incident are members of a unit that investigates past shootings and works to get guns off the streets.

"Here is an officer, young officer, out there on the streets of the Bronx, getting guns off the streets to save lives. That's what he does," the mayor said.
It is the third shooting of an NYPD officer in the past three months. All the officers survived.

In November, two officers investigating a domestic violence complaint were shot in Queens in an exchange of gunfire that killed the suspect.

And on Christmas Eve, a police officer was shot in Brooklyn while responding to a call, also domestic violence.

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