Suffolk County Police investigate a police-involved shooting where two police...

Suffolk County Police investigate a police-involved shooting where two police officers were also stabbed in Medford on Wednesday. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

One of two Suffolk County police officers stabbed Wednesday during a fatal encounter with a Medford man has been released from the hospital, police said Friday.

The officer, who has not been identified by police, was stabbed through his bulletproof vest close to his heart where the knife hit a rib, a doctor at Stony Brook University Hospital told reporters Thursday.  

“Being stabbed right over your heart, that goes through a vest, and it hit a rib, and it didn’t go further, that really saved that officer’s life,” said Dr. James Vosswinkle, head of trauma at Stony Brook.

The officer, who has been on the job for 11 months and is also an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, was also stabbed in his left biceps and left thumb.

Suffolk police said Enrique Lopez, who lived in a home operated by a nonprofit for people with disabilities and mental health issues, was shot and killed after he lunged toward three police officers, stabbing two of them.

Another officer is on a ventilator after he was stabbed in the clavicle and groin and left with “life-threatening injuries,” Vosswinkle said. Police offered no update on that officer’s condition Friday.  That officer has not been identified.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said Thursday that three Sixth Precinct officers responded to a 911 call at about 5 p.m. Wednesday to an apartment in the Blue Ridge Condominium Complex on Birchwood Road in Medford, where Lopez, 56, was reportedly menacing others with a fire extinguisher.

The officers entered the home, walked up a flight of stairs and approached Lopez, Harrison said, and "asked him how he was feeling.”

“At such time, the same suspect pulled out a Rambo knife and lunged at the other officers,” Harrison said. “The officers repeatedly asked him to drop the knife as they attempted to retreat to cover. When our subject lunged at the officers, he stabbed one of the officers in the clavicle.”

One of the officers fired four rounds at the suspect, Harrison said, striking him in his upper torso. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:15 p.m., the commissioner said.

Police have not said which officer fired the fatal shot.

Harrison said the investigators are looking into reports that neighbors had made numerous calls to the Homeowners Association and police about Lopez, who had allegedly displayed erratic behavior in the past.

Online court records show Lopez, who previously lived in East Patchogue, was charged with felony assault in February 2011. He later pleaded guilty and served two years in prison followed by 15 months parole, probation department records show.

Harrison said Lopez’s 2011 arrest involved the assault of a Suffolk County police officer and court records show he was indicted for resisting arrest during that incident.

Police investigators will also attempt to determine if Lopez was behind recent vandalism, including slashed tires, in the area, Harrison said.

The home where Lopez lived is operated by a nonprofit agency called Concern Housing, which provides services to people with disabilities and mental health issues. The officers were approached by a case worker who supervised mentally ill patients at the home, said the man had been "acting violent, irrational and threatening other residential patients with a fire extinguisher,” Harrison said. 

Elizabeth Lunde, the chief operating officer at the Medford-based Concern Housing, said in a statement Thursday: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Suffolk County Police Officers" and their families …We are conducting a thorough investigation and are cooperating with police and other officials. "

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