A 20-year-old man brandishing a pellet gun was shot and wounded nine times by New York police early Friday outside a Bronx catering hall after he refused commands to drop the weapon, officials said.
Mamadou Balde, 20, an emigrant from Guinea, was in critical but stable condition at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, officials said. The Associated Press reported that he was hit in the arm, foot and groin. The shooting followed a melee outside the Cocoa House, a hall on Edward L. Grant Highway that is rented out for social and music events in the West African community, according to an NYPD spokesman.
Balde was described by a friend as a "wannabe Blood," referring to the street gang, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne. Balde had gone out with his gas-charged replica of a Beretta handgun because he told another friend that he was expecting trouble from people he expected to see at the Cocoa House, Browne said.
The gun was so close a match to a real Beretta that cops initially described it as such, Browne said.
Balde, who had fired the pellet gun outside the club while being chased by 10 to 15 other revelers, was brandishing the weapon when police arrived at the intersection of Grant Highway and Jerome Avenue, just south of the club, Browne said.
"Drop it, drop the gun," one cop yelled at Balde, according to another officer, Browne said.
Three officers from the 44th Precinct fired 18 rounds from their 9-mm service handguns, Browne said. One officer fired nine times, another officer shot four times, while the third fired five shots, Browne said.
A police official who didn't want to be named said the officers were not expected to face any criminal charges.
Police said they received word around 2:45 a.m. about a fight outside the Cocoa House, which was apparently started by men swinging belts and striking partygoers inside the club. According to witnesses, Balde was being pursued outside by as many as 15 people and started pointing the gun at the crowd, Browne said.
Balde was a shooting victim in 2007 during what may have been a gang-related incident, police said. He also had one previous arrest in connection with petit larceny in 2010 and had an open bench warrant for a disorderly conduct charge.