The NYPD officer from Medford who shot the terror suspect accused of killing eight people and mowing down several others in lower Manhattan said he was just doing his job.
Ryan Nash, 28, a five-year veteran of the department, spoke out for the first time Wednesday, a day after the showdown with Sayfullo Saipov, the alleged terror suspect.
“I appreciate the public recognition of the actions of myself and my fellow officers yesterday,” said Nash, reading a statement. “Although I feel we were just doing our jobs like thousands of officers do every day, I understand the importance of yesterday’s events and the role it played in that recognition.”
Ryan spent Wednesday in his Medford home surrounded by loved ones while miles away, high-ranking city and state officials sang his praises not far from where the shooting happened.
“Ryan is a hero but he was so humble about his achievement,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, speaking at a news conference at police headquarters in lower Manhattan about the conversation he had with Nash at Bellevue hospital. “It was very striking. He thought this was all in a day’s work and what a cop does to protect other people. He deserves the accolades of the people of this city, as do his partners.”
More details emerged a day after the deadly attack, including a play-by-play of Nash’s encounter with Saipov, 29, a showdown that NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill showed “great courage.” “A cop with five years on the job, 28 years old, and this is what he did for the city and this is what he did for the country so I’m really proud of him,” O’Neill said.
Nash and his partner Officer John Hasiotis, of Suffolk County, were at Stuyvesant High School on Chambers Street on Tuesday afternoon on an unrelated call, and they were told about a vehicle accident nearby, O’Neill said. That’s when the officers walked outside and spotted Saipov.
Officials for the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, the union that represents the rank-and-file members of the department, said the officers heard passersby screaming “he’s got a gun.”
Nash reached the scene first and fired his weapon, striking Saipov in the abdomen, officials said. Hasiotis secured the area and witnesses who heard the terror suspect shout “Allahu Akbar,” PBA officials said in a statement. Officers Michael Welsome and Kevin McGinn then collected the suspect’s weapons and helped to secure the scene.
“New York City police officers routinely put their lives on the line to protect the public just as these four courageous officers did as they ran towards this danger not knowing what they would find,” said Patrick Lynch, PBA president, in a statement. “These events rarely involve one police officer and we are extremely proud of this team of brave and dedicated men.”
Nash’s girlfriend declined to speak Tuesday night, except to say she had heard from him and that he was OK. On Wednesday, a Suffolk County Police Department car blocked the driveway of his Medford home.
Nash serves in the First Precinct, a square mile at the southernmost tip of Manhattan that is home to the World Trade Center, SoHo, TriBeCa and Wall Street. He has received two past awards for Excellent Police Duty and one for Meritorious Police Duty from the NYPD.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Wednesday called Nash a hero who had “earned the never-ending thanks of a grateful nation.”
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Nash showed how important and brave NYPD officers are, while Joon H. Kim, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, called the officer courageous. Hasiotis’ mother said her son, 38, and a five-year veteran, left a phone message Tuesday saying he was all right.
“When he left the message on the phone, I was crying, I was so scared,” said Ann Hasiotis of West Babylon on Wednesday. “Then he called back and he said ‘I’m OK, Ma. If you saw my face on television, I don’t want you to worry.’ ”
Hasiotis called her son a strong, not-so-talkative type.
“I’m very proud of him. And I’m very thankful nothing happened to my son,” his mother said. “He knows what he did, the right thing, but he doesn’t brag about it. But he’s not going to because he’s not like that.”
Meanwhile, Nash’s neighbors said they were happy to know the hero cop called their block home.
Joy Meyer-Buckley, 61, a staffing assistant for Scope Education Services, a company that operates before- and after-school programs, said Nash recently moved into the neighborhood
“My feeling is that I am thankful and grateful to have a police officer in the neighborhood — especially one that is a hero,” Meyer-Buckley said.
She said she was thinking about sticking a note in his mailbox to thank him for his service.
“I’m glad he is safe,” said Meyer-Buckley. “I want to reach out to him to thank him myself.”
Dino Cortina, 41, a store manager for IGA supermarkets said she sees Nash jogging in the neighborhood.
“It is fantastic knowing you have a hero across the street from you, especially one who saved all those lives,” Cortina said.
With Emily Ngo and Ellen Yan