- Associated Press - Monday, December 12, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) — A 22-year veteran police officer responding to a break-in Monday morning was shot in the face and killed by one of the suspects hiding inside the Brooklyn apartment when officers arrived, police officials said.

Officer Peter Figoski, who could have retired two years ago with a full pension, was pronounced dead at 7:17 a.m. at a hospital just hours after the shooting, authorities said.

Lamont Pride, 27, was arrested and faces murder charges. It’s not clear when he would be arraigned, and there was no information on whether he had a lawyer. A second suspect was still being sought.

Officer Figoski had more than 200 arrests in his career and had been awarded 12 medals, including 8 for exceptional police duty.

He was part of a backup team of officers who responded to a report of a break-in at the basement apartment in the East New York section of Brooklyn, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. The building owner, who lives on the first and second floors, called 911 at about 2:15 a.m.

The two suspects tried to flee but couldn’t find a way out through the back of the apartment and were hiding in a side room as officers walked past them and started to interview the tenant and a neighbor. The suspects were trying to escape through the front when they ran into Officer Figoski. He was shot once.

Officer Figoski’s partner, Glenn Estrada, was struggling with a second suspect in front of the house when he heard the shot and watched the suspect running away. He chased after him for blocks before capturing him, Commissioner Kelly said. Officer Estrada was treated for a shoulder injury received during the fight.

“I want to commend Officer Estrada, who had the presence of mind to focus on the man with the gun, and the courage to chase him down and capture him,” Commissioner Kelly said.

Police recovered a silver semi-automatic pistol under a parked car near where Mr. Pride was arrested. There was one round discharged from the weapon, and the shell casing had jammed inside the gun. Commissioner Kelly said the gun had 10 other live grounds and the gunfire could have been worse had the weapon not jammed.

Officer Figoski, 47, of West Babylon, N.Y., was divorced and had four daughters. Carolyn, 16, and Corrine, 14, are in high school, and Christine, 20, and Caitlyn, 18, are in college. His brother Robert Figoski is a retired police officer, and his brother-in-law is currently an officer.

“It is a family that has dedicated its lives to making this city safe, and it’s just such a tragedy,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The tenant told police he heard the suspects pounding on the basement door, claiming to be police. They broke down the door and demanded money, pistol-whipped him and took $770 in cash and a watch, police said. The tenant works at a nearby bodega and told police one person was wearing a ski mask.

A ski mask was recovered on the street corner where Mr. Pride was arrested.

Mr. Bloomberg, an outspoken advocate for gun control, said the gun was purchased illegally, and he reiterated his plea for stricter gun laws around the country. New York has some of the strictest nationwide.

“These guns are bought and used to kill people, and you saw that this morning,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

It was the second time this year an NYPD officer was killed in the line of duty. Officer Alain Schaberger fell 9 feet off a stoop and broke his neck while responding to a domestic violence call in Brooklyn in March. The man accused of pushing him has pleaded not guilty to murder.

The shooting Monday recalled the the 2007 death of Officer Russel Timoshenko. He was shot twice in the face during a traffic stop in Brooklyn and later died. His partner, Herman Yan, was saved by his bullet-resistant vest.

Associated Press writer Samantha Gross contributed to this report.



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