Two New York City police officers responding to a report of a man with a gun were shot in the Bronx during a gun battle with the man seconds after they had approached him on a building stoop on Wednesday night, according to the police.
One of the officers, Alejandra Jacobs, was released from St. Barnabas Hospital on Thursday, greeted by bagpipes and applause from colleagues including the Police Department’s top uniformed official. Her partner, Robert Holmes, was continuing to receive treatment there along with the man they had approached, Charlie Vasquez, who was shot three times and is expected to survive, the police said.
Officer Jacobs, who has been on the force for a year, was shot twice in the upper right arm and fired five shots back, striking Mr. Vasquez, Dermot F. Shea, the New York police commissioner, said at a news conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio at the hospital late Wednesday.
Officer Holmes, who has been on the force for eight years and was shot in the armpit as he wrestled with the gunman, was expected to stay in the hospital for a couple more days, Commissioner Shea added on Thursday during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Officer Holmes was in stable condition.
Mr. Vasquez, 23, of Brooklyn, remained in the hospital on Thursday and had not been charged. He was in serious condition after undergoing surgery.
The police said his criminal record included nine prior arrests for offenses including robbery, theft and, most recently in 2017, carrying a loaded gun. The dispositions of those cases were not immediately available on Thursday.
Commissioner Shea, at the hospital, described Mr. Vasquez as a “career criminal with far too many arrests, still on the streets of New York City.” He said Mr. Vasquez’s gun had been reported stolen in Georgia last year.
“We are very lucky tonight,” Commissioner Shea said, adding that the officers were in good spirits. He said the shooting had been captured on body camera video, but the footage was not released.
Mr. de Blasio said the officers had showed “incredible bravery” and added that there are “too many guns out there.”
“It’s another example of a gun from out of state, comes into our city, hurts a New Yorker,” Mr. de Blasio said. “This is something we’ve got to deal with in a whole different way.”
The shooting, shortly after 8 p.m., began after a call to 911 reported a man with a gun at a building on Beaumont Avenue, in the Belmont section of the Bronx, Commissioner Shea said. The two officers walked up to a man who was sitting on the stoop and who matched the description provided to the police, Commissioner Shea said.
When Officer Holmes asked the man to take his hands out of his pockets, the man stood up, pulled out a gun and opened fire, Commissioner Shea said.
“Within seconds, they are in a gun battle,” he said. As Officer Jacobs was shot in the arm and fired five shots back, her partner wrestled with the gunman, Commissioner Shea said.
Part of the encounter was captured on surveillance video posted to Twitter overnight that left unclear whether Officer Holmes had been shot by the gunman or by his partner. The police department’s Force Investigation Division was reviewing the incident, officials said.
The 30-second video, recorded by an overhead surveillance camera, shows the officers approaching the man as he sits on a stoop enclosed by a metal gate. A scuffle ensues when Officer Holmes enters the gate and grabs the man’s left arm. A white streak whizzes toward Officer Jacobs as she draws her gun, and she quickly returns fire at the man.
She and Mr. Vasquez continue exchanging gunfire before he moves out of the camera’s view while struggling with Officer Holmes. Officer Jacobs, who remains in the frame, then fires another round.
Malik Alsaedi, 34, the manager of 7 Days & Nights Deli on 187th Street near the corner of Crotona Avenue, said he had been behind the cashier’s desk at around 8 p.m. when he heard gunshots ring out.
He dashed out the door, looked down the block toward Beaumont Avenue and saw police officers running toward the source of the sound.
“When I heard the shots, I didn’t think they were that close,” Mr. Alsaedi said. “I didn’t think they were a block away. But when I walked outside, that’s when I realized it was something serious.”
The shootings occurred precisely a year after two New York City police officers were shot and wounded while responding to a domestic violence report in Queens. The police said that the assailant in that case, Rondell Goppy, had ambushed the two officers with two guns and that they had returned fire. Mr. Goppy, whose guns had been taken by the police the previous summer and then returned to him, was killed.
It was the first of three shootings of police officers in a three-month span. The following month, on Christmas Eve, a police officer in Brooklyn was shot and wounded after responding to a domestic violence call. And in January, an officer working with the Gun Violence Suppression Division in the South Bronx was shot in his lower back, just below his bulletproof vest.
A police lieutenant was also shot and wounded during a struggle with a man armed with a gun in the Bronx in July.
The president of the Police Benevolent Association, Patrick J. Lynch, who also spoke at the news conference on Wednesday, agreed with Mr. de Blasio that there were too many guns on the streets.
“But perps aren’t afraid to carry them,” he said. “They’re not afraid to put it in their belt, put it in their pocket and pull it out on a police officer. That’s the problem.”
The shooting on Wednesday occurred as the Bronx was struggling with a surge in gun violence during the pandemic that has not slowed with the virus. There have been more shootings in the borough so far this year than there were in any year at this point since 1996, according to Police Department statistics. There have been 459 so far this year, though the frequency of shootings in the borough has been decreasing since August.
Oswald Feliz, a Democratic member of the New York City Council who represents the Bronx district where the shooting occurred, said the neighborhood was plagued by gun and gang violence that showed no signs of abating. In an interview, he blamed a lack of both economic opportunities and serious consequences for people who are repeatedly arrested in connection with gun offenses. He noted that the area had a high rate of poverty and insufficient pretrial programs for arrestees waiting for their cases to be resolved.
“You’re basically released within a day of getting caught,” he said. “Your case is pending, It takes years before the case is resolved. So you’re basically out on the street continuing what you’re doing for a few years before your case is resolved.”
The violence leads more people to carry guns for their safety despite the risk of arrest, fueling “a bad cycle of violence,” Mr. Feliz said. Several teenagers in his district with prior gun-possession arrests had been shot and killed, while others were facing lengthy prison sentences for shootings that could have been avoided with effective deterrence, he said.
Representative Ritchie Torres, a Democrat who represents the area, asked for prayers for the officers, writing on Twitter that New Yorkers must support Mayor-elect Eric Adams “as he seeks to crush the epidemic of violence that has taken hold in the Bronx and elsewhere in the City.”
Chelsia Rose Marcius and Mike Ives contributed reporting.