A Nassau police officer responding to a home break-in in North New Hyde Park was shot and wounded early yesterday after coming face-to-face with a suspected burglar who suddenly wheeled around and fired at close range.
Two suspects were arrested shortly after the 2 a.m. shooting following a foot chase that involved about 30 officers assisted by a police helicopter, authorities said.
Police recovered a 9-mm handgun that they believe was used to shoot Officer Mohit Arora once in the abdomen.
Arora's mother said her son, a six-year veteran of the force, told her from his hospital bed: "I'm OK, don't worry."
Det. Lt. John Azzata said pursuing officers fired "numerous" shots at the fleeing gunman and the other suspect, but neither man was wounded.
"The suspect pointed his weapon at the other officers, and the other officers returned fire," Azzata said. "We are still calculating the number of shots."
Arora, 32, was taken to a hospital in the backseat of a police car. He was in stable condition Wednesday night at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset and was expected to recover, police said.
Arora's mother, who lives with him in Bellerose, Queens, said she was worshipping at a Hindu temple during morning services when she got news of the shooting and rushed to the hospital.
"He was looking good," Shashi Arora, 59, said later, adding: "I blessed him."
Arora's cousin, Seema Mehta, 40, of Franklin Square, said the wounded officer called her from the hospital. "This is Mohit. I got shot," he told her.
She said doctors told her that Arora was shot in the abdomen and the bullet exited his right hip.
"I almost caught him," Arora said of the shooter, according to Mehta.
Police said the break-in on Campbell Street was reported by two people inside the home in a 911 call placed at 1:50 a.m.
Azzata said the home was targeted, but he would not say why, or if the residents, identified only as a man and woman, knew the suspects.
"It was not a random act," Azzata said.
Police said Arora arrived at the front of the home just as the suspects were leaving.
During a manhunt that only lasted minutes, police said they shut down dozens of streets in the leafy suburban neighborhood before capturing the suspects.
No money or property was stolen, because the suspects were not inside the two-story brick home long enough to take anything, police said. Neither resident was harmed.
The suspects' names were not released. Neither made an initial court appearance Wednesday, but police said charges were pending.
Arora, a native of India, 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.
James Carver, president of the Nassau Police Benevolent Assocation, said Arora had been injured in the line of duty once before. "He's got nine lives," Carver said. "He's already used two of them."
Arora injured his back when he crashed his cruiser while chasing a suspect on the Cross Island Parkway several years ago, but that didn't keep him from returning to the beat, Mehta said.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano met with the wounded officer and his family and said he "thanked him for his heroic service" and "offered the support and prayers of Nassau County."
Neighbors said the man and woman living in the upscale Campbell Street home were business owners who moved in about two years ago. Security cameras were visible on the front of the house.
"I heard the shots and prayed they weren't hurt, because they own a business and they had said before they were worried someone would follow them home," said a neighbor, Maura Charles.
Charles said she heard officers screaming "Stop!" and "Get on the ground!" during the chase, while one of the suspects shouted back obscenities.
Tony Cacioppo, who lives next door to the targeted home, was surprised by the commotion.
"This is not the kind of neighborhood where people are breaking in for gold bullion," he said. "It's a real bucolic suburban block."
A number of other Nassau officers have been seriously injured or killed in recent years.
Officer Arthur Lopez was fatally shot by ex-convict Darrell Fuller in October following a pursuit near the Cross Island Parkway, police said. Fuller has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.
Lopez's death came a week after Joseph Olivieri, a Nassau highway patrolman, was struck and killed by an SUV while at an accident scene on the Long Island Expressway.
On March 12, 2011, Geoffrey Breitkopf, a member of the department's Bureau of Special Operations, was shot and killed by an MTA officer who mistook the plainclothes Breitkopf for an armed suspect.
In February 2011, Officer Michael Califano, 44, was killed when a flatbed truck slammed into his police cruiser.