Suspect indicted in Bronx ambush shootings of NYPD officer, lieutenant

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The man accused of opening fire on an NYPD van in the Bronx last weekend and then walking into a precinct the next day and shooting an officer was indicted on a dozen counts of felony attempted murder Friday.

Robert Williams was in court to face charges in the second incident. He is charged with two more counts of felony attempted murder for the first.

Dozens of NYPD officers and union leaders arrived early and packed the courtroom in support of the two officers who were injured in the shootings.

Officer Paul Stroffolino was driving the NYPD van and was struck by a bullet in the neck and chin. Lieutenant Jose Gautreaux was inside the 41st Precinct and was shot in the arm. Both are now recovering at home.

Williams was captured after he walked into the police station on Longwood Avenue and started shooting before 8 a.m. Sunday.

Other officers returned fire but did not hit the suspect.

Surveillance video shows Williams apparently firing at police personnel before he ran out of bullets. He then laid down and slid his pistol across the floor.

"It is only by the grace of God and the heroic actions of those inside the building that took him into custody that we are not talking about police officers murdered inside a New York City police precinct," New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a press conference Sunday.

PBA President Pat Lynch thanked the judge for remanding Williams, thanked the Bronx District Attorney's Office for obtaining the indictment, and thanked the people on the grand jury.

Lynch said recent talk of threats against police officers is "not unusual for those of us who have a shield on our chests. We deal with those threats on a regular basis."

Sources say Williams was arrested for attempted murder in 2002 and released on parole in 2017. He is described as "a career criminal."

In a 2002 case, he shot a person, carjacked a woman, crashed her vehicle, and then got into a shootout with police, according to officials.

Shea said at a late-night news conference that the attack "should outrage all New Yorkers" and called the shooting an "attempted assassination."

He also lashed out at criminal justice reform activists who have held demonstrations against excessive force by police in recent months, including a large protest in Grand Central Terminal. He suggested that the protests helped create an anti-police environment.

"These things are not unrelated," he said. "We had people marching through the streets of New York City recently. Words matter and words affect people's behavior."

Shea didn't offer any evidence that the gunman in this weekend's attacks knew of those protests or was influenced by them.

Williams is due back in court on March 6.

The attacks recalled other unprovoked assaults on police officers sitting in their patrol vehicles.

In 2017, a gunman killed Officer Miosotis Familia as she sat in her patrol vehicle in the Bronx. In 2014, two officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot dead in their patrol car in Brooklyn by a man upset about recent police killings of unarmed black men. Shea said Ramos and Liu's deaths were "not something that engenders anything but the worst memories."

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