NYC Mayor Eric Adams discusses the wounding of two NYPD officers after police said a robbery suspect opened fire during a foot chase in Queens early Monday. Credit: Newsday/James Carbone

Two NYPD officers from Long Island were recovering late Monday from gunshot wounds suffered after a robbery suspect opened fire during a foot pursuit, department officials said.

The officers, Richard Yarusso and Christopher Abreu, both 26 and of the 115th Precinct in Elmhurst, were hospitalized after the shooting about 1:40 a.m. Monday. The officers were released from NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst about six hours later, according to the NYPD.

At a news conference at the hospital, NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban said the wounded officers had been working to address a robbery pattern in the area involving thieves on mopeds and scooters when they encountered the suspect, identified as Bernado Raul Castro Mata, 19, driving a moped the wrong way on 82nd Street near 23rd Avenue.

When the officers tried to pull him over, the suspect fled on foot with both officers in pursuit “for several blocks,” Caban said.

“During the pursuit,” Caban said, “the suspect fired multiple rounds at our officers, who then returned fire.”

One officer was shot in the chest area but was protected by a bullet-resistant vest. The other officer was shot in the leg, said Caban, adding that their injuries were “another reminder of what are officers do to put themselves on the line to make sure our city is safe.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams held up the vest that stopped a bullet meant for one of the officers.

“This is a bullet hole,” he said at the news conference, pointing to puncture in the vest at about the abdomen level. “Because of this vest, a young police officer is going home.”

The suspect was shot in the ankle and listed in stable condition at NewYork Presbyterian-Queens Hospital, Caban said.

Both officers reside on Long Island, a department spokeswoman said. They are expected to fully recover, Caban said.

Abreu joined the NYPD in 2019. According to his officer profile, Abreu has made 144 arrests so far in his career. Public records show he resides in Nassau County.

Yarusso joined the NYPD in December 2023 and has made 93 arrests so far, according to his officer profile. Public records show Yarusso lives in Suffolk County.

Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said that while the suspect has no prior arrests in New York City, he is suspected in several robbery patterns in the area.

He said the alleged shooter lives at a migrant shelter in the former Courtyard Marriott Hotel on Ditmars Boulevard. He is from Venezuela and is in the United States illegally, Kenny said.

He did not legally own either the moped or the gun, Kenny said.

Adams called the shooting a “senseless act of violence” and a “total disregard for life.”

Kenny said robberies involving scooters have drastically increased in the past two years.

From Jan. 1 to June 1, 2022, New York City had zero moped robberies. In 2023, the city had 20 such robberies in that same time period. So far this year, that number has increased to 80 moped robberies.

“That's over 80 robbery patterns alone encompassing over hundreds and hundreds of incidents,” Kenny said.

With Anthony M. DeStefano

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