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N.Y. sergeant shot saving man's life

Copyright 2006 Newsday

The Associated Press

NEW YORK- An off-duty police sergeant trying to save a man who was begging for his life was shot Thursday evening in an exchange of gunfire, and a teenager was killed, authorities said.

Sgt. James Rector, 34, stumbled upon 17-year-old Eric Hines as the teen held a gun to a man who was on his knees and shouting for help, police said.

Gunfire erupted, and Rector, who works at a police recruiting office, was hit twice. In the chaos, a wounded Rector, who identified himself as a policeman, was able to return fire, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

"Despite already being hit, Sergeant Rector displayed incredible clarity of mind and a coolness literally under fire that few of us could ever hope to muster," the mayor said during a news conference at the hospital where Rector was being treated.

Rector, a father of two and 11-year veteran of the police department, was shot in the leg and buttocks about 7:30 p.m. in the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill area of Brooklyn, police said. He was in stable condition.

Rector fired 11 shots, striking the teen shooter several times, police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Hines was killed in the shootout, and the other man, whose identity wasn't revealed, was wounded in a leg and was hospitalized. He also was in stable condition. It was not clear who shot him.

Hines' father, Eric Pitt, said he was trying to make sense of what happened.

"My baby's gone," Pitt, his head bowed, said through tears. "My baby's gone, man."

Rector had apparently just gotten off work and was in plainclothes when he confronted Hines.

The shooting remained under investigation, and police said they were looking for a man who took the teen shooter's gun and fled the scene in a car with dark tinted windows.

City Councilwoman Letitia James said the area, which she represents, is plagued with a gun problem.

"Too many individuals unfortunately are walking around with guns," James said.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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