The NYPD officer from Medford who shot the terror suspect accused of killing eight people and mowing down several others in lower Manhattan was widely praised Wednesday for his heroism — but he told his boss and the mayor it was just part of the job.
Officer Ryan Nash, 28, fired at the driver Tuesday afternoon, hitting him in the abdomen and leading to his capture.
Ryan spoke out for the first time Wednesday evening, a day after the deadly 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, who read 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.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio had been struck when he met Ryan by his humility.
“Ryan is a hero but he was so humble about his achievement,” de Blasio said at a news conference Wednesday. “He thought this was all in a day’s work and what a cop does to protect other people.”
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill agreed. “I had the opportunity to talk to Ryan last night . . . at the hospital and I don’t think we could find a more humble human,” O’Neill said. Nash was at New York-Presbyterian/lower Manhattan Hospital being treated for tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, when he spoke to officials.
“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.”
Nash and his partner were at Stuyvesant High School on Chambers Street Tuesday afternoon for an unrelated call when someone told them there was a vehicle accident nearby, O’Neill said. The officers walked outside into mayhem.
“All New Yorkers should be thankful to Ryan and his partner,” O’Neill said. “They showed great courage.”
Nash also received praise from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Schumer commended Nash from the Senate chamber floor for reacting “quickly and decisively” in stopping the attack. “Who knows how much worse the tragedy would have been without his actions?” he said.
Cuomo said it’s the officers on the streets who keep New Yorkers safe. “He was a hero and the NYPD is not just the leadership. It’s the men and women who are out there every day who are on the first line. I think Officer Nash really showed how important they are and how talented and how brave.”
At Nash’s Medford home, his girlfriend had 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.
Nash is a five-year veteran of the NYPD and 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.
One Medford neighbor said Wednesday that she was glad to have Nash living nearby.
Joy Meyer-Buckley, 61, a staffing assistant for Scope Education Services, a company that operates before- and after-school programs, said Nash moved in just recently. She said the family is “very quiet.”
“My feeling is that I am thankful and grateful to have a police officer in the neighborhood — especially one that is a hero,” she said.
Meyer-Buckley said she might stick a note in his mailbox thanking him for his service. “I’m glad he is safe,” she said. “I want to reach out to him to thank him myself.”
With Emily Ngo, Ellen Yan and Anthony M. DeStefano.