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Cops fatally shoot molester from New Hyde Park

Police said that suspect Frank Hernandez, shown in

Police said that suspect Frank Hernandez, shown in a driver's license photo, was shot by police responding to a 911 call Thursday night in New Hyde Park. Police killed Hernandez as he struggled with an officer over another officer's gun, police said. (Oct. 8, 2009)

Nassau cops fatally shot a New Hyde Park man who was struggling with an officer, moments after the suspect sexually molested a young woman whom he had abducted, police said.

Police killed Frank Hernandez Thursday night as he struggled with an officer over a gun, police said Friday. Commissioner Lawrence W. Mulvey called the shooting "completely justified."

Police say Hernandez, whose pants were at his ankles when two officers responding to a 911 call approached him, had what turned out to be a "simulated handgun" in his lap and was still wearing the ski mask he had used to hide his face when he abducted the woman and then sexually assaulted her, police said.

One officer attempted to get Hernandez out of the car when they struggled over both the officer's gun and the fake gun, police said.

The other officer fired several rounds, one striking Hernandez in the wrist and abdomen, the other in his chest, and he was pronounced dead at 11:28 p.m., police said.

"He's really shook up about the whole thing," a source familiar with the investigation said of the officer who shot Hernandez. Mulvey said that officer, who he credited with saving the 22-year-old's life and his own partner's, had been on the job between 4 1/2 and 5 years.

Nassau police said Friday that they are beginning to look into the possibility that Hernandez may be connected to a brutal attack on a teenage girl earlier this week in Great Neck.

The Great Neck assailant also wore a mask. Hernandez is Hispanic and the Great Neck suspect spoke with a Hispanic accent, police said. Police stressed that at this point, they are merely examining parallels between the cases and said Hernandez isn't necessarily a suspect.

In the New Hyde Park incident, Hernandez followed the woman to her Honda sedan after lurking in a Stop & Shop supermarket parking lot, Mulvey said.

Two people outside the supermarket, which is on Hillside Avenue in New Hyde Park, saw Hernandez, witnessed the abduction and called 911 about 10:50 p.m., police said.

The woman had gone to the market to buy ginger ale for an ailing family member, police said.

Hernandez, who lived a few blocks away, drove with the victim in the passenger seat to the back of the store, the witnesses told police. There, he forced her to perform a sex act then drove to a traffic light at Hillside Avenue, where the officers spotted the car and ordered the occupants out.

They took the victim out of the car, but Hernandez refused to get out and told the officer on the driver's side, "Be prepared to die," the source said. Hernandez struggled with the officer, whose gun fell, police said. They then struggled for the officer's gun and Hernandez's fake gun.

The victim was treated and released from a hospital.

A woman who answered the door at Hernandez's home on North Sixth Street said the family was in shock.

"He was the nicest guy in the world," she said.

Hernandez's friend Anthony Marengo, who came to the crime scene Friday morning, was incredulous that Hernandez - a pizza delivery man - was dead.

"He was a kindhearted person who never had a bad word to say about anybody," Marengo said. "He stayed out of trouble most of the time."

With Zachary R. Dowdy

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