Sources said 12-year-old Gabriel Haze and 45-year-old Irene Perez were caught in the crossfire as NYPD Officer Juan Gomez fired 27 rounds at an armed suspect near Loring Place North in the University Heights after 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Gomez and his partner, Officer Brandon Gembecki, were patrolling in an unmarked police car when the suspect, 36-year-old Edwin Castillo, allegedly robbed two men of a kilo of drugs in a backpack at gunpoint in a building's lobby on West 183rd Street.
Castillo allegedly fired one shot, but no one was hit.
Sources said Castillo, covering his face and carrying the backpack, then emerged and walked past Gomez and Gembecki's car.
Gomez, riding passenger side, then got out of the car. Police said Castillo turned around and fired one shot at Gomez, then ran down Loring toward Fordham Road. Gomez started chasing and firing at him, and Castillo turned around and fired another shot before throwing the gun in a pile of garbage bags. In total, Gomez fired 27 rounds, and Castillo fired three, police sources said.
During the encounter, Perez was hit in the abdomen and transported to St. Barnabas Hospital. Doctors removed a bullet consistent with an NYPD 9mm round.
Haze, who was walking home from school with her mother, was hit by "several small metal fragments." She suffered minor injuries. The suspect was shot in the neck and foot, and neither officer was injured.
Police have yet to interview Gomez about the incident.
Colin Brown, Haze's grandfather, told Eyewitness News that his granddaughter is in good spirits, but his family is shocked.
"I keep crying all the time because I see the possibility of what could happen. She could lose her life too," he said.
Brown said he harbors no ill will toward the police officer who fired the shots.
"I gotta give credit to the police because they were there all this time for us and they make sure they check everything," he said. "It makes us feel like we're not alone."
The backpack containing what appeared to be a brick of narcotics was recovered at the suspect's arrest location on Fordham Road.
Castillo is facing charges of attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon.
The shooting is now under departmental review - that is a standard procedure. In 2017, officers fired their weapons in 23 incidents, an all-time low for the NYPD.
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