By The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) -- It's one of the riskiest jobs in law enforcement:
taking illegal guns off the streets by trapping armed suspects in
For three years, the New York Police Department's Firearms
Investigation Unit has hauled in increasing numbers of guns and
suspects with operations that delicately balance stealth and safety.
On Monday night, backup teams lost two undercover detectives trying
to buy a $1,200 submachine gun, police said. Minutes later, the two
men were dumped on a Staten Island street with fatal gunshot wounds.
Four suspects were in custody Wednesday, including 19-year-old Omar
Green, who gave himself up on a Staten Island ferry Tuesday after a
passenger alerted two patrol officers to a man disguised in a
blond-streaked wig and stuffed bra.
Ronell Wilson, also 19, was arrested Wednesday. Also arrested were
Michael Whitten, 19, and Jessie Jacobus, 17. Police said at least one
other man was wanted for questioning.
In Monday's undercover operation, four police backup cars dropped out
of sight when one of two suspects riding in the detectives' car got
out to make a phone call, police said.
The backups could not catch up again, and a miniature transceiver on
one of the detectives' bodies cut out in the hilly neighborhood,
"It's a challenge, no question about it, to have something small
enough to avoid detection but large enough to transmit a sufficient
distance," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
The police detectives' union said it had long complained of problems
with the transceivers, known as "kels," although it was unclear
whether a technical problem contributed to the deaths.
"Most of the time they work fine, other times they're deficient,"
Detectives' Endowment Association president Tom Scotto said. "Whether
the outcome would have been the same is difficult to say."
The seven-year Police Department veterans were found minutes after
the undercover operation began. Each had been shot once in the head
and neither appeared to have fired a shot.
Investigators said they believe the officers were shot in an attempt
to rob them of the $1,200 gun payment.
The two slain detectives were among 13 undercover officers in the
city's firearms investigation unit, which seized 484 guns and
arrested 89 people last year, up from 260 guns and 68 arrests in
2001, according to department records.
After initially withholding their names to protect open
investigations, police identified the slain officers Wednesday as
Rodney Andrews, 34, and James Nemorin, 36.
Nemorin, a seven-year police veteran, was married with three
children, ages 7, 5 and 1. Andrews, a seven-year veteran, had two
sons, ages 11 and 12.
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There was a $54,000 reward for information leading to convictions in
the case, police said.