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Detective Dies in Stabbing in the Bronx

March 31, 2002
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Detective Dies in Stabbing in the Bronx

by Elissa Gootman, The New York Times

An off-duty narcotics detective was fatally stabbed yesterday morning as he tried to break up an argument between his girlfriend and her former boyfriend, the authorities said.

Police officials declined to release the name of the detective, saying that to do so would compromise the undercover investigation on which he was working.

They said the confrontation began shortly before 8:20 a.m., when Luis Alberto Gomez Gonzalez, a 26-year-old auto mechanic, knocked on the door of a fifth-floor apartment at 1355 Grand Concourse, where his former girlfriend lives with their 6-year-old daughter.

The child was not at home when her mother answered the door, the police said. The woman and Mr. Gonzalez began arguing, they said, and the detective, who had returned to the apartment with his girlfriend a few hours earlier, went to the door to intervene. Mr. Gonzalez stabbed him once in the chest with a knife, the police said.

The detective stumbled back into the apartment and collapsed while trying to get his off-duty service revolver, a senior police official said. Mr. Gonzalez fled, taking the knife with him, the authorities said.

Miriam Soto, 50, who lives across the hall from the detective's girlfriend, said she heard the woman scream early yesterday.

"I opened the door and said, `What happened?' " Ms. Soto said. "She said her boyfriend was stabbed. She was screaming hysterically."

She added, "She didn't say much, just, `help me, help me, call the ambulance.' "

The detective was taken to Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, where the authorities said he was pronounced dead at 9:15 a.m.

At a news conference at the hospital, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly described the detective, 34, as a well-respected officer with an excellent record.

"There is significant representation here from the unit that he works in, and there's an awful lot of very upset people as a result of this incident," Mr. Kelly said.

Yesterday afternoon, police officers who knew the detective gathered outside the hospital, some of them exchanging tight hugs and handshakes, and quiet words of comfort.

Around 8:30 last night, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg paid a condolence call to relatives of the detective at another apartment building in the Bronx. The mayor stayed for about 15 minutes and made no public statement.

Police officials described a wide-ranging search for Mr. Gonzalez, who they said was thought to live in Jersey City. In the Bronx, they distributed a flier with Mr. Gonzalez's picture and a physical description.

Mr. Gonzalez's relationship with his girlfriend soured several months ago, the police said. The woman filed a domestic incident report this year, the police said, claiming that Mr. Gonzalez had broken her cellular phone during an argument. Later, they said, she dropped the charges.

Mr. Gonzalez does not have a criminal record, the authorities said.

The detective, who police officials said had been separated from his wife since 1995, began dating Mr. Gonzalez's former girlfriend about five months ago.

Yesterday, the detective's estranged wife appeared grief-stricken. "He really wanted to be a cop," she said. "He always dreamed to be that. He was a very special man."

At the apartment where the stabbing occurred, fingerprint-dusting powder stained the door and wall, and neighbors, some of them dressed up for Easter, explained the cluster of police officers downstairs to those who had not yet heard the news.

One neighbor, Julio Miranda, 31, said that when he saw police officers gathered outside the apartment yesterday morning, he thought they were there for an Easter parade or to protect a special visitor to a nearby church.

"I wouldn't have thought it would have been something like this," he said. "I thought the cops were there because it's Easter Sunday."

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