02/06/2007

NYC officers save their fellow rookie from attacker wielding bat

By PAT MILTON, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK — Police officer Patrick Lynch, out of the academy only two months, was on his early morning foot patrol when he spotted a bat-wielding man leaning over the collapsed body of a fellow rookie.

The officer on the ground, Joseph Cho, had been slammed over the head twice with the bat, police said. Then his attacker reached down and pulled the officer's service revolver and handcuffs from his belt before running away.

Lynch radioed for help, then gave chase. Another officer recently out of the academy, Christine Schmidt, responded to the call. Together, the two rookies wrestled the man to the ground and arrested him.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly on Monday praised the officers' quick reaction to the attack that happened in Queens at about 1 a.m. that morning.

"The outstanding response by these young officers to this vicious attack on their fellow officer prevented the assailant from escaping and posing an even greater risk to the public," Kelly said.

Cho, on the police force less than a year, was taken to a hospital, where he was listed in serious but stable condition with a fractured skull. Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited him.

Danny Fernandez, 21, was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault of a police officer, robbery and criminal possession of a weapon. He was arraigned late Monday in Queens Criminal Court and was ordered held without bail. He did not enter a plea.

A telephone for his arraignment attorney, Joseph Ramirez, rang unanswered Monday night.

Fernandez, who lives with his mother and siblings in Flushing, told police when in custody that he had been searching for an officer to ambush for about three hours when he saw Cho walking alone, prosecutors said. Fernandez followed Cho, waiting for an opportunity to attack him, they said.

Fernandez claimed he was $16,000 in debt, which he hoped to pay off through the proceeds of robberies he was going to commit, prosecutors said.

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