Two days after the NYPD announced it was rolling out a squadron of drones to help in police work, department officials said one of the devices was pressed into service for the first time to do reconnaissance related to an officer-involved-shooting in the Bronx.
A licensed police drone operator with the NYPD's Technical Assistance Response Unit piloted the device Thursday morning in the aftermath of a shooting the night before involving officers and a Bronx man suspected of holding up two men in University Heights. The suspect, Edwin Castillo-Concepcion, 37, and two innocent bystanders were wounded, police sources said.
The drone was piloted Thursday in airspace above 152 West Fordham Road and took a series of photographs for analysis of the shooting by prosecutors and NYPD investigators, according to a police official.
The NYPD announced Tuesday it was going to use a group of 14 unarmed drones to do special work, including aerial surveillance of large crowd gatherings and HAZMAT situations.
Police officials said two plainclothes cops spotted Castillo-Concepcion Wednesday night after he fired a weapon in the lobby of a building at 98 183rd St. during the robbery of two men after forcing them to hand over a kilogram of a white powdery substance.
As Castillo-Concepcion ran from the lobby, he was pursued by Officer Juan Gomez, 30, of the 52nd Precinct, officials said. Gomez and Castillo-Concepion then exchanged gunfire, police said, with the Bronx man firing at least twice at the officer. Gomez fired at Castillo-Concepcion about two dozen times from his 9-mm service handgun, officials said. Castillo-Concepcion was observed tossing a .25-caliber handgun into some garbage just before officers took him into custody, police said. No cops were injured.
Castillo-Concepcion was shot in the neck and transported to St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx where he was listed in stable condition, officials said. Late Thursday, the NYPD said Castillo-Concepcion faced second-degree attempted murder and firearm charges.
A woman, 46, was hit in the stomach in front of 2280 Loring Place by what is believed to be a round from Gomez’s weapon, police said, while a girl, 12, was hit in the leg with bullet fragments, likely from the officer's gun. The woman was in critical but stable condition in a hospital while the child was in stable condition, police said.
It was unclear Thursday what kind of white powder substance Castillo had taken from the two men, who remained at large. Gomez and his partner, Officer Brandon Gembecki, 30, both had police body cameras but the devices were not activated at the time of the shooting, officials said.