Officer Kevin Brennan asked about infant daughter

Neighbors and family react to the shooting of NYPD Officer Kevin Brennan, who was shot in the head virtually at point-blank range late Tuesday by a suspect in a chase in Bushwick. Brennan, from Garden City Park, is expected to survive. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (Feb. 1, 2012)

The first thoughts of a critically wounded NYPD officer from Long Island were for his 6-week-old daughter when he saw his family in the hospital.

"He asked for Maeve right away," Robert Masi, the brother-in-law of Officer Kevin Brennan's wife, Janet, said Wednesday. "It's what you'd expect from a young father."

Brennan, 29, a six-year NYPD veteran, of Garden City Park, was shot point-blank in the head Tuesday night during a struggle in the Bushwick Houses in Brooklyn with a gunman who police believe may have tried to squeeze off a second shot at the downed officer.

Instead of penetrating Brennan's skull, the bullet lodged behind the officer's right ear between the skin and the skull bone, said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. Brennan remained in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan Thursday morning after doctors removed the .38-caliber slug.

At a news conference at the hospital after the shooting, Mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed optimism that Brennan and his daughter would be reunited soon.

"Thankfully tonight I think there's no reason to think her daddy won't be there to see her crawl for the first time -- and in good time, dance at her wedding."

"This was a miracle," Kelly said. "He's one lucky young man."

Family members rallied around the officer.

Brennan's father-in-law Joseph Dempsey said he comforted his daughter Janet when they spoke early Wednesday, telling her that the officer kept himself in good shape and would recover.

"He's got pains from his chest up, but they said . . . it's like getting hit in a car accident," said Dempsey, who lives in a Chicago suburb. "You get hit in the back of your head, it's like someone hit you with a sledgehammer. Your whole body goes forward and pulls your chest muscles, your neck muscles."

He said Brennan had recently passed the sergeant's test.

"Everybody's sick to their stomachs about it because he's such a nice guy, easygoing, friendly, upbeat," he said.

Kelly provided new details Wednesday about how Brennan was wounded.

Brennan, a plainclothes officer working an anti-crime unit, and two other officers responded to a "shots fired" call about 9 p.m. and chased a suspect identified by police as Luis Ortiz into the East Williamsburg building, Kelly said.

A surveillance video from the building shows the two struggling and Ortiz putting his arm around the officer's head and a shot being fired, Kelly said. Because the struggle took place in the alcove, Kelly said the actual shooting wasn't caught on camera. But after the sound of a gunshot, Brennan remained motionless. Kelly believes Brennan returned fire, though police said Ortiz was not hit.

An examination of Ortiz's revolver found six rounds in the cylinder -- three expended rounds and three unfired, Kelly said. Because one of the unfired rounds had a hammer strike, Kelly said it was possible Ortiz may have tried to fire a second time at the downed officer.

But because the gun was a cheap knockoff of a Colt pistol, the cylinder doesn't spin in an orderly manner, making it hard to determine the exact sequence of shots, police said.

Earlier in the evening, the 21-year-old Ortiz allegedly fired two shots during a "stare down" with another man, gunshots that prompted the call that brought Brennan and two other officers running to the scene, police said.

Ortiz was arrested a couple hours after Brennan's shooting at 390 Bushwick Ave. in the fifth-floor apartment of his uncle, police said. He was charged Wednesday with attempted murder of a police officer, assault on a police officer, criminal possession of a weapon, and menacing, police said. He was expected to be arraigned Thursday morning at Brooklyn criminal court.

As officers walked Ortiz out of the 90th Precinct in Brooklyn, he yelled in Spanish, "You know what it is!" and "Yeah, take a picture of me!" to a crowd outside the station house on Union Avenue.

Police said he had been wanted for questioning in connection with a January homicide and had 14 prior arrests before the incident with Brennan. Police records showed that Ortiz had a list of arrests going back to 2005 when he was about 16, when he was the subject of a case sealed because of his juvenile status at the time. In December, Ortiz was charged with reckless endangerment for setting fire to trash bins at Bushwick Houses, said a spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney's office.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Follow Newsday on social media

advertisement | advertise on newsday