NYPD: Off-duty cop shot responding to domestic abuse

Joseph Koch, an off-duty NYPD officer, was shot Joseph Koch, an off-duty NYPD officer, was shot in the hand late Sunday as he struggled for his gun with a suspect in a domestic-abuse incident in Queens, New York City police said. (June 17, 2013) Photo Credit: NYPD

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An off-duty NYPD officer with ties to Long Island was hailed as a lifesaving hero Monday -- a day after being shot in the hand trying to break up a domestic-abuse attack in Queens.

Officer Joseph Koch, 28, whose last known address was in North Babylon, was listed in stable condition Monday at Jamaica Hospital, said New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who visited the wounded officer.

Koch, assigned to the 101st Precinct, was leaving a party in Jamaica about 10 p.m. Sunday when he saw an 11-year-old boy running out of a house screaming for help and shouting that his mother was being assaulted, police said.

The seven-year police officer entered the boy's home on South Jamaica Avenue with his firearm drawn, and was attacked by suspect Jose Bernazard, 40, police said. The two tussled for Koch's gun, which resulted in shots being fired.

One bullet went through Koch's left hand, Kelly said. Bernazard has three bullet wounds, near his ear, and on his hand and abdomen, which required surgery. He remained in stable condition Monday, Kelly said. The injury to Koch's hand led to the loss of the knuckle on his ring finger and will likely mean more surgery.

"If nobody would've helped her she would've died," said Virgen Lopez, a cousin of the woman who was attacked.

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The woman required 11 stitches on her head, but was recovering well at Jamaica Hospital, her family said.

Her son was eager to meet the officer who came to his mother's aid, said Kelly, who arranged for the two to get together.

The boy went to Koch's hospital room and said, "Thank you very much," Kelly said. The officer waved with his right hand and said, "Anytime."

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New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also paid Koch a visit last night, but left the hospital without speaking to reporters.

Koch has a 1-year-old child with his fiancee and two other children, ages 4 and 5, from a previous marriage. One child attends school in North Babylon, said Anthony Sclafani, 32, of Bay Shore, Koch's former brother-in-law.

"He's a good guy," Sclafani said. "He's a hard worker and he always does the right thing."

Police charged Bernazard with five counts of assault, five counts of criminal contempt, and one count each of aggravated harassment, burglary, endangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest.

Bernazard's criminal history includes convictions for trespassing, possession of a controlled substance and charges of criminal mischief, harassment, assault and criminal obstruction of breathing/blood circulation.

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With Gary Dymski, Maria Alvarez and Laura Figueroa

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