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4 arrested after Bellmore home invasion

A man is taken into custody Monday in

A man is taken into custody Monday in connection with a Bellmore home invasion and robbery. (Sept. 19, 2011) Photo Credit: Jim Staubitser

Police have caught all four suspects believed to be responsible for a Monday-morning home invasion robbery in Bellmore that saw six people hospitalized, including a police officer -- and more than two dozen area schools placed on lockdown.

The fourth suspect was arrested as he attempted to flee in a taxi cab that State Police told Newsday was stopped by Nassau County police officers near Exit 21 on the Southern State Parkway in Roosevelt.

Police involved in an attempted stop of the original getaway vehicle, a white Ford Crown Victoria, fired on that car, Nassau County police Det. Lt. Kevin Smith said. He declined to discuss the circumstances of that shooting, but said officers involved were "in fear for their lives."The shooting is under review, Smith said.

The driver of that suspected getaway car was wounded in the leg, Smith said, and Nassau University Medical Center spokeswoman Shelley Lotenberg told Newsday that the driver, another suspect, a police officer, two residents of the home that was broken into and a relative of those residents were among the six transported there.

The officer had an ankle injury, police said. Lotenberg said that officer was treated and released. The other three victims, including the husband and wife who were inside the home at the time of the alleged home-invasion robbery, did not suffer physical wounds, Lotenberg said. However, she said she could not detail the injuries.

Smith confirmed two of those transported were occupants of the house -- a man in his 50s and a woman in her 40s. The man had chest pains, Smith said.

He said the officer suffered an ankle injury while chasing one of the suspects.

At least 27 schools were on lockdown: 10 in Levittown, five in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School district, three in the Merrick school district, four in Seaford and five in Wantagh. Officials from those districts said the schools were cleared from lockdown status at about 1 p.m., with Merrick lifting its lockdown last at 1:20 p.m.

The suspected home invasion took place at a home on Bellmore Avenue near Fowler Street at about 9 a.m.

A 911 call first reporting the incident came from a witness on Fowler, police said.

Smith said that 911 call came from "an excited young man," who reported a burglary in progress. Smith said the call indicated four men had broken into the home -- one armed with a handgun, the other three armed with knives.

It was not clear if any weapons had been recovered.

Police said initial reports indicated at least two people inside the home had been "tied up." But Smith said those reports could not immediately be confirmed and were under investigation by detectives.

It was not clear what, if anything, was taken in the incident. It also was not clear if the home was targeted.

Police said four suspects fled the scene and said a witness followed the car for a brief distance before losing it.

Officers then found the vehicle traveling on Babylon Turnpike and attempted to stop it, Smith said, only to have two suspects bail out of the vehicle -- and flee on foot.

Smith said one man was arrested almost immediately, on Babylon Road. The other is believed to be the suspect later arrested as the passenger in the taxi cab stopped on the Southern State Parkway.

Police fired at the Crown Victoria somewhere near the area of the initial stop, Smith said, though the circumstances surrounding that shooting were not detailed by police. As the pursuit continued, a third suspect "bailed out" of the vehicle on Sunrise Highway in Merrick -- while the driver continued on until eventually being stopped outside a car dealership on Sunrise Highway in Wantagh.

The third suspect was caught in the backyard of a home in South Merrick, police said.

The fourth suspect was arrested at the stop in Wantagh.

During that stop more than a dozen officers had surrounded that vehicle, a witness told Newsday, while a helicopter hovered above the scene.

Following the arrest, witnesses told Newsday there were at least two bullet holes in the windshield of the Crown Victoria, as well as one behind the passenger-side rear door.

A salesman at Merrick Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Wantagh, Geoff Rice, told Newsday he witnessed the end of the chase outside the dealership. "It was like you see on television," he said, "with police, their guns drawn, dragging a guy out of the car."

With Gary Dymski

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