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Cops: Officers who shot Deer Park man knew he may have dropped knife

Investigators probe scene of shooting at the Babylon

Investigators probe scene of shooting at the Babylon Park Center apartment complex in Deer Park. (Oct. 9, 2013) Photo Credit: James Carbone

Two Suffolk police officers who shot an unarmed Deer Park man lunging at them were aware that he may have dropped a kitchen knife he had been brandishing earlier when he led police on a chase, authorities said.

The officers had learned that Eric Bohlsen, 40, may have let go of the knife while being pursued by police about 10 minutes earlier. A witness had picked it up and turned it in, said Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, commander of the Suffolk Homicide Squad.

After the Wednesday chase ended, the officers found Bohlsen in a dimly lit bedroom inside the apartment. They fired at him -- one with a handgun and the other with a stun gun -- after Bohlsen, who suffers from schizophrenia, lunged at them, Fitzpatrick said.

They thought Bohlsen still had a knife because he made "slashing motions across his chest," Fitzpatrick said.

Even after Bohlsen was shot in the abdomen, he came toward the officers again. "At some point, he comes back at them and a Taser was deployed a second time," Fitzpatrick said.

Bohlsen remained in stable condition Thursday at Good Samaritan Hospital after undergoing surgery.

Police were summoned to the Babylon Park Center apartment complex at 9 Parkcenter Dr. by Bohlsen's father, Edward Bohlsen, 79, whom he lives with. Police said the elder Bohlsen told them his son threatened to cut off his head.

In a brief interview Thursday, the elder Bohlsen said he called police because his son needed help, not because he was fearful of him.

According to police, it all began around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, when the first uniformed police officer responded to the 911 call. The elder Bohlsen met the officer in the parking lot and told him his son had threatened him with a knife.

The officer called for backup and when a second officer arrived, they saw Eric Bohlsen run through a hole in a wooden fence separating the one-story apartment complex and a trucking company's parking lot.

Eric Bohlsen at that point refused the officers' command to drop the knife -- described as a standard kitchen knife -- and ran off, Fitzpatrick said.

At one point, Bohlsen climbed onto J.P. Express' loading dock and an employee of the trucking company saw him and gave chase, said Robert Pelosi, the company's president.

"He ran through the lot and dropped the knife," Pelosi said.

The J.P. Express employee picked up the knife and handed it to the first officer who responded and he announced over his radio that he recovered a knife, Fitzpatrick said. Four other officers, including the two who shot Bohlsen, got that message, he said.

Fingerprints and DNA tests are being conducted to determine whether the knife is the same one Bohlsen used to threaten the officers.

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