Before Officer Mohit Arora shooting, couple held at gunpoint

Renhang Qiu, 22, of Brooklyn, has been charged with burglary, attempted robbery and criminal possession of a weapon, in connection with a home invasion and shooting of Officer Mohit Arora in North New Hyde Park, police said. Qiu leaves Nassau police headquarters in Mineola to be arraigned. (Aug. 15, 2013)

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A masked intruder held a stunned North New Hyde Park couple at gunpoint as they lay in bed -- minutes before the fleeing man shot and wounded a Nassau police officer, the homeowners said Thursday.

"He pointed the gun straight at me," said Michael Chen, recounting the pre-dawn encounter on Wednesday.

Chen told Newsday that the would-be burglar -- armed with a 9-mm pistol -- entered the bedroom and yelled "Don't move!" at him and his wife, Annie.

"It was terrifying," Chen said. "We just tried to stay calm."

Moments earlier, the couple had called 911 after hearing noises downstairs. When police began arriving, the intruder fled empty-handed, Chen said.

Wearing a surgical mask and baseball cap, the suspect entered the Campbell Street home through a basement window at about 1:50 a.m., Chen said.

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"He seemed surprised and caught off-guard that we were there," he said. "The police got here so fast he had no time to take anything."

Chen said he runs a company that imports goods from China and had returned from a business trip to Texas only two hours before the break-in. He and his wife were not harmed.

The gunman -- identified by police as Cong Xu, 21, of Brooklyn -- shot Officer Mohit Arora in the abdomen outside the home and fled on foot.

Xu and an alleged accomplice, Renhang Qiu, 22, also of Brooklyn, were arrested a short time later after about 30 officers flooded the residential neighborhood. The weapon believed to have been used to shoot Arora was recovered, police said.

Both suspects were arraigned Thursday on charges of first-degree burglary, first-degree attempted robbery and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Xu also is charged with first-degree attempted murder.

Xu and Qiu were ordered held without bond and are due back in court Monday.

Xu was arraigned in his hospital room at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, where he's being treated for an ear injury, according to police. His head was wrapped in bandages and there were bruises on his cheeks and chin.

Court officials were told Xu is a waiter earning slightly more than $1,000 a month.

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Assistant District Attorney Melissa Lewis said Qiu was waiting outside the home in a car, presumably as the getaway driver.

Lewis said the break-in was planned at least a day in advance. "They brought tools to carry out their plan, including a firearm," she said in court.

Qiu told reporters "I'm sorry" as he was loaded into a police car to be taken to court. He appeared before Judge Norman St. George in First District Court in Hempstead, with about 75 Nassau officers packing the courtroom.

It wasn't immediately clear why the Chens were targeted, or whether the couple knew the suspects.

Chen said he may have met Xu before, but he couldn't recognize him because of the mask. "He might know me. I'd like to see his face," he said.

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Police said the fleeing Xu turned and fired several rounds at pursuing officers, with one bullet striking Arora in the lower abdomen and exiting through his right hip. Officers fired "numerous" shots during the chase, but police said neither suspect was hit, authorities said.

Arora, in stable condition Thursday night at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, escaped damage to his vital organs, according to James Carver, president of the Nassau County Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. In a few days, Arora will undergo surgery to repair his hip, Carver said.

Arora, 32, has been on the Nassau force since November 2007, assigned to the Third Precinct. He previously spent 3 1/2 years with the NYPD, patrolling Queens.

Chen praised Arora and his fellow officers, crediting their rapid response with foiling the burglary.

"I'm thankful to him and glad he is going to be OK," Chen said of Arora. "The police did a great job."

Qiu's family was shocked by news of the arrest.

"My brother never has gotten into trouble. This is a complete surprise," said his sister, Susu Qiu, 23. "If my brother needed money, he could always get it from me or my parents. There is no point for him to rob people."

Qiu said her brother recently graduated from Lincoln College of Technology in Queens, where he learned to repair cars. He lives with his parents in the three-story home they own in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, she said.

She is convinced her brother, who called her from jail, is innocent. "He told me that his friend wanted him to drive him to Long Island," she said. "He didn't know what was going on until the police showed up."

With Maria Alvarez

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of suspect Renhang Qiu because of incorrect information provided by Nassau County police.

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