Officers fatally shot; NYPD says they helped avoid more bloodshed
By SAMANTHA GROSS and NAHAL TOOSI, Associated Press Writers
NEW YORK — The streets of Greenwich Village were crowded with people enjoying one of the first warm evenings of the year. Andy Paul was outside Lion's Den, a nightclub where his hard-rock band was about to perform.
Then he saw the man with the gun.
"He was running this way putting a new clip in," the 28-year-old singer said Thursday, a day after the rampage. "He turned around, firing at the cops."
Paul hit the ground: "I just didn't want to get shot." Josh Drimmer was among those who ducked into the back of the venue.
"Hearing that many shots in a row, it was war. It felt like that for a hot second," Drimmer said.
Police said the gunman, David Garvin, had killed a pizzeria bartender, shooting him 15 times with a semiautomatic weapon. Running through the streets, he would kill two more men, both civilians volunteering as police auxiliary officers.
Dressed in uniforms nearly identical to those of full-time officers, both Nicholas Todd Pekearo and Eugene Marshalik were unarmed, but they followed the gunman before he turned on them.
Police showed reporters surveillance video of Pekearo ducking behind a car before he was fatally shot as Garvin hovered over him. Unlike Marshalik, Pekearo was wearing a vest, but that saved him from only one of the six bullets that hit him.
Garvin holed up in a shop called the Village Tannery. Charles Jottras, watching from his fourth-floor apartment window, saw three police officers approach.
After a man who was not the gunman came out with his hands on his head and left, Jottras, 22, said he heard shots that appeared to come from inside the store.
Moments later, the gunman came out shooting at the police, who then shot the gunman dead, Jottras said.
Garvin's body lay bloodied and askew outside a shop on Bleecker Street, a gun lying on the sidewalk steps away. He had been carrying two semiautomatic firearms and a bag with a fake beard and 100 rounds of ammunition, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly praised Pekearo and Marshalik, saying the gunman could have killed more people had they not intervened. Only the sixth and seventh auxiliary officers to die on the job in city history, they will receive full police honors at their funerals.
Police were still investigating what led to the shootings.
Garvin, 32, was wearing the beard when he entered De Marco's Pizzeria and Restaurant, asked for a menu and shot an employee identified the victim as Alfredo Romaro, 35.
A neighborhood resident, Tina Lourenco, said she saw the gunman and recognized him as a former employee of the locale. But Dominick De Marco Jr., whose sister runs the pizza parlor, told The New York Times the shooter was probably a former customer.
Authorities said Garvin shot at least 23 rounds on his bloody circuit through the neighborhood, where people enjoying the spring-like weather were flocking to the area's many outdoor cafes. As an ambulance pulled away from the scene, police drew yellow tape across several intersections, closing off a section of Bleecker Street near NYU's downtown campus and close to several famous bars and restaurants, including Cafe Wha?, where Bob Dylan used to perform.
By Thursday, someone had taped a sign to a lamppost along with pink silk flowers. It read: "Rest in peace, our beloved auxiliaries."
Pekearo and Marshalik were among the city's nearly 4,500 auxiliary officers. They are the "eyes and ears" of the police force but are not required to respond to emergency calls, Kelly said.
Pekearo, 28, was a writer with a book scheduled to be published soon, the mayor said. Marshalik, 19, a student at nearby New York University, had immigrated from Russia, Bloomberg said.
The younger man joined the auxiliary force after deciding he wanted to become a prosecutor, Tatyana Kochergina said at her cousin's suburban Valley Stream home.
"He would say he really enjoyed it," said Kochergina, 21. "He got along with everybody on the squad. Sometimes he would ride along with the NYPD. He felt like it was where he wanted to be."
"He was just a kind-hearted individual who could make anyone smile. A brilliant, brilliant young man. ... He was amazing," Kochergina said before becoming too distraught to continue talking.
Associated Press Writers Sara Kugler, Colleen Long and Jennifer Peltz in New York and Frank Eltman on Long Island contributed to this story.