Shot NYPD officer recovering; says he wants to continue on force

By Luis Perez

The plainclothes Brooklyn cop allegedly shot and wounded by a fellow officer's husband told relatives he "wants to continue to do his job" yesterday, as prosecutors leveled charges against the couple.

Police Officer Andrew Suarez, 25, was alert and in stable condition at New York Methodist Hospital, a day after the Saturday shooting in which two bullets were fired into his unmarked car, one striking him in the upper back, police said. He is expected to recover fully.

"He could retire right now. But he wants to continue to do his job," said one of Suarez' cousins, who asked not to be identified.

Suarez's 14-year-old sister Jennifer, said the family, from St. James, had visited him in the hospital. "He's up and walking. He recovered real fast," she said.

His father, John Suarez, said, "He's lucky to be alive. He saw death. ... He loves his job. He's very dedicated. He thought he was going to die."

Suarez's mother, Myrna Suarez, said her son had apologized to her for getting shot. "I told him he didn't have to apologize," she said.

Meanwhile, Jose Rivera, 31, a parolee who served five years for assault, and his pregnant wife, Police Officer Jacqueline Melendez-Rivera, 37, were taken out of the 78th Precinct station house.

"Not guilty, not guilty," Rivera murmured as he was led out of the station house in pajamas pants, a sweatshirt, socks with no shoes.

The shooting occurred at 4 a.m. at Sixth Avenue and Prospect Place in Park Slope, police said. Suarez and three fellow anti-crime cops, riding in an unmarked sport utility vehicle, pulled over to look at a car tailing them, police said.

According to a witness, Rivera grew angry and shouted, "If they want beef, we'll give them beef," before leaning over a front-seat passenger and "firing numerous shots," one of which struck Suarez, prosecutors said.

Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Nada Abdelhadi said at the arraignment that ballistics tests showed that a 9-mm Ruger handgun found in the yard of Rivera and his wife's home matched the bullet in Suarez's neck.

After Suarez was shot, his fellow officers fired 13 shots at Rivera's vehicle and took Suarez to the hospital.

Just blocks away, police canvassing the area stopped a white 2002 Acura MDX matching the description of the attacker's car. They found Melendez-Rivera driving it and questioned her, police said.

Abdelhadi said the officers flashed their badges before the shooting.

Rivera's front-seat passenger, who was detained, was not charged in connection with the shooting, police said. Rivera was charged with second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault and weapons possession, prosecutors said. Bail was still to be determined.

His wife was charged with hindering prosecution, tampering with evidence, obstructing government administration and possession of marijuana found in her home. She was released on a $50,000 bond.

Matthew Nestel and T.W. Farnam contributed to this story.

Copyright 2007 Newsday, Inc.

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