NEW YORK -- At least four people were fatally stabbed, including two children ages 11 and 12, early Sunday at a New York City home when a suspect went on what authorities allege was a "rampage," allegedly setting fire to the couch in the residence and slashing two police officers with a kitchen knife before being shot to death.
The stabbing frenzy erupted early Sunday in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of the borough of Queens, according to the New York Police Department. Two police officers, both veterans of the force, responded to a disturbance and were attacked in the driveway of the home by the alleged perpetrator, whom they spotted carrying luggage from the residence, authorities said.
One officer was slashed in the face and the other sustained a cut to his head before one of them opened fire on the suspect, killing him, according to a preliminary investigation by the NYPD.
"This shows that police officers never know what they're responding to, what's waiting for them on that scene," Patrick Henry, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, said during a news conference Sunday. "This scene was chaos, multiple victims, a house on fire, and a madman on a rampage, on a mission."
The suspect was identified by police as 38-year-old Courtney Gordon, who had one previous arrest stemming from a strangulation domestic violence incident in the Bronx borough of New York City, NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said.
Sunday's violence unfolded just after 5 a.m., when police received a 911 call from a young female who said "her cousin is killing her family members," NYPD Chief of Department Jeff Maddrey said, characterizing it as a domestic violence incident.
Maddrey said two patrol officers, one a 28-year NYPD veteran and the other a 16-year veteran of the department, were the first to arrive at the scene on Beach 22nd Street and saw a man in the driveway of the residence carrying luggage.
As the officers began questioning the man, who was later identified as Gordon, the alleged suspect nodded and attacked the officers with what Maddrey described as a "typical kitchen knife."
One officer was slashed in the neck and chest area and the other was cut in the head, Maddrey said. Despite being wounded, one of the officers, the 28-year department veteran, managed to draw his weapon and shoot the perpetrator, stopping the attack, according to Maddrey.
The two wounded officers, whose names were not released, were taken to Jamaica Hospital in Queens and treated for non-life-threatening injuries, Maddrey said.
The chief of department said other officers responding to the scene found an 11-year-old girl, who had been stabbed outside the front door of the home. The girl was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead, Maddrey said.
He said officers could not immediately enter the house due to a fire in the living room.
"It seems that he [the suspect] lit the couch at the front of the location on fire as he was leaving," Maddrey said.
The New York City Fire Department responded to the scene and extinguished the blaze, officials said. When officers entered the residence, they discovered three people fatally stabbed in two back bedrooms of the home, including a 12-year-old boy, Maddrey said. A 61-year-old woman was also found stabbed inside the house and taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in Queens in critical condition, Maddrey said.
Others killed during the incident were a 44-year-old woman and a man in his 30s, according to Maddrey.
The names of the victims were being withheld by police pending notification of their relatives. Maddrey said police believe the victims and Gordon are related.
Maddrey said Gordon lived in the Bronx and was visiting relatives in Queens when the rampage erupted.
A motive in the attack remains under investigation.
Henry, the police union president, praised the actions of the injured officers, saying the veteran officer who fatally shot the attacker showed "unbelievable skill" in stopping the threat despite being injured.
"Imagine what could have happened if these police officers weren't there," Henry added.