10/23/2012

Officer shot, killed on NY expressway

The Nassau County officer and a civilian were shot Tuesday at a location off the Cross Island Expressway

By Frank Eltman and Tom Hays
Associated Press

BELLEROSE TERRACE, N.Y. — A motorist fleeing a possible hit-and-run traffic accident fatally shot a Long Island police officer in broad daylight Tuesday near the Belmont racetrack and then apparently killed another driver not far away during a carjacking, authorities said.

The suspect was identified as 33-year-old Darrell Fuller, who was on parole after serving time for attempted murder, authorities said. He remained at large.

Nassau County Officer Arthur Lopez "lost his life to a cold-blooded killer," County Executive Edward Mangano said at a news conference.

The death came less than a week after another Nassau County officer was killed while responding to a traffic accident.

Lopez was on patrol in Bellerose Terrace, a community at the border of New York City's Queens borough and Nassau County. The officer and his partner spotted a damaged silver Honda that was "running on rims" and fit the description of a car that had left a hit-and-run, authorities said.

The officers gave chase, and the car pulled over. There was "a brief exchange of words" between Lopez and the driver before the driver left the vehicle and fired one round into Lopez's chest, police Chief Steven Skrynecki said, adding that the officer wasn't wearing a bulletproof vest.

The shooter got back into his car and drove away, and then accosted the second victim, authorities said. He shot the man in the head, dragged him out of his car and left him dead on the roadway as he drove away, they said. The car later was found abandoned in a residential neighborhood in Queens.

The slayings touched off a massive manhunt for Fuller that included heavily armed New York Police Department officers going door-to-door in Queens. Authorities also closed the Cross Island Parkway for several hours, causing traffic delays.

A man who witnessed the officer's shooting as he was stopped at a gas station along the highway said it looked like a routine traffic stop.

"The officer's walking up to the car. They just pulled out (a gun) and shot," said Paul Walcott, a music producer from the Queens neighborhood of Bayside. "He went right down. He got hit point blank. He went straight down."

The car then sped off, heading south on the Cross Island Parkway, a north-south highway along the border of Queens and Nassau County.

"In broad daylight, this time of day, it was incredible to see something like that," Walcott said.

The shooting unfolded within blocks of Belmont Park, the racetrack where the Belmont Stakes is held.

Highway patrolman Joseph Olivieri was killed Thursday while responding to a traffic accident caused by an alleged drunken driver.

The driver, who was later charged with driving while intoxicated, smashed into one car, then drove on a short distance before stopping. A car then hit that driver's vehicle, turning it sideways in the road. The police officer who arrived to investigate was then struck by an SUV that happened upon the crash scene.

Thousands of police officers attended a funeral Monday for Olivieri outside a Long Island church.

Lopez, 29, lived on Long Island and was single. He joined the police force in 2004.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press
 

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