An NYPD officer was shot dead with his own gun by an ex-con as they grappled on the ground in the Bronx early Sunday — and authorities are investigating whether he was additionally hit by friendly fire from fellow officers, sources said.
Officer Brian Mulkeen, 33, and two other members of the Bronx Borough Anti-Crime Unit were patrolling the Edenwald Houses when they got out of their police vehicle at 229th Drive North near Laconia Ave. to question the suspect about 12:30 a.m., authorties said.
“The man fled and a foot pursuit ensued,” NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said at an early morning press conference at Jacobi Medical Center. “As Officer Brian Mulkeen and his partner attempted to apprehend the man, a violent struggle on the ground began.”
Mulkeen tackled the 6-foot 270-pound suspect. Mulkeen is 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, sources said.
“He’s reaching for it — he’s reaching for it!” Mulkeen yelled out as he tussled with the gunman, police body-worn cameras revealed.
Mulkeen, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest, was shot three times with his own gun as he grappled with the suspect, sources said. Mulkeen’s gun went off five times during the clash.
The cop was struck in the head and torso, sources said.
Moments after his gun went off, five officers opened fire on the 27-year-old suspect, killing him. Cops are investigating whether any of their bullets inadvertently hit Mulkeen as well.
“I was coming back from a card game going home,” said Shalimar Scott, 43, who has lived in the Edenwald Houses since 2011. “I heard seven shots when I got up the block … somebody was dead on the ground and the police was pumping his chest.”
Mulkeen was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center but couldn’t be saved. The suspect died at the scene.
The suspect’s .32-caliber revolver was recovered at the scene though it did not appear to have gone off during the struggle, authorities said.
The gunman, identified by sources as Antonio Lavance Williams, was on probation until 2022 for a narcotics-related arrest last year.
Mulkeen had almost completed seven years on the force. He just bought a house in May in Yorktown Heights with his girlfriend, who is a cop with the 44th Precinct in the Bronx, officials said.
“There is absolutely no worse moment on our job than this,” Monahan said. “As we stand here this morning, a young man with a bright future who courageously patrolled some of New York City’s toughest streets has tragically lost his life.”
Mulkeen worked in the 48th Precinct before joining the borough-wide plainclothes Bronx Anti-Crime Unit. He made 265 arrests in his career, 155 of them for felonies, and earned five NYPD medals.
“He stood out as a recruit among peers as a leader,” said NYPD Captain Kevin Coleman, commanding officer of the 10th Precinct, who was Mulkeen’s instructor at the police academy in 2013. “The other recruits, they were inspired by him.”
“He was very high integrity, very honest,” Coleman added. “You could tell he was someone who wanted to be a police officer for all the right reasons.”
Before joining the NYPD he worked as a dispatcher for the upstate town of Tuxedo.
”He got the call from NYPD and was on his way,” said Tuxedo Police Sgt. Douglas Russell. “His grandfather worked for the NYPD and retired as a homicide detective after 40-plus years so he was proud to serve there.”
“He was truly one of those cops that you’d want to arrive upon your time of need,” Russell added. “He’d go the extra mile without a second thought.”
Just over 24 hours before his death, Mulkeen pulled an illegal firearm off the streets. He nabbed a 27-year-old man allegedly carrying a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber revolver at Reads Mill Lane and Tillotson Ave. about 11:25 p.m. Friday. That suspect was charged with criminal possession of a loaded firearm and unlawful possession of marijuana.
Mulkeen had been assigned to patrol the Edenwald Houses because shots had been fired three days earlier at the same location where Mulkeen was killed, sources said. Cops recovered surveillance video showing an exchange of gunfire between two groups of people with between 28 and 30 shots fired about 8 p.m. Thursday. Nobody was struck.
“By every measure we lost a hero,” Mayor de Blasio said at the hospital press conference.
The brave cop graduated from Fordham University in May 2008 with a degree in business administration.
“He gave his life for all of us,“ de Blasio said. “One of the things (Mulkeen’s family) told us, even with their grief, was that Brian made a choice, an incredibly noble choice, to leave a civilian life, a lucrative career. He wanted to protect other people. He loved the city.
“To think that their son made this choice and now has given his life, we have to be there for him,” he added.
The NY Police and Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund, also known as Answer the Call, announced it will immediately provide the slain hero cop’s family with $25,000 to assist with expenses.
Mulkeen was a track and field champ during his time at Fordham and had recently become a volunteer coach there, school officials said.
He was a field captain for two years during his time at the school, earning a bronze medal at the 2008 Atlantic 10 Indoor Track & Field Championship in the weight throw and helping his team win the 2008 Metropolitan Outdoor Track & Field Championship for the first time ever. He was also class president and an honor society member.
Williams, meanwhile, spent time living upstate in Binghamton, Endicott and Haverstraw — and had been arrested in all three cities, sources said.
He was convicted of burglary after a 2011 arrest in Haverstraw and sentenced to 42 months in prison. He returned to prison briefly in 2014 after violating the term of his release, and his parole ended in July 2017.
More recently, he was sentenced to three years probation after being convicted of drug possession from a March 2018 bust in Endicott.
And in January of this year, he was arrested in Binghamton for petty larceny and possession of a forged instrument. He paid a $100 fine in that case.
There was an active warrant out for Williams’ arrest for failing to appear in court for a summons he got in Hudson, N.Y., on May 7, sources said.
Mulkeen is the second NYPD officer killed in the line of duty this year. Det. Brian Simonsen was accidentally shot by fellow officers in February while confronting a robbery suspect in Queens.
Police scanners captured the chaos of Sunday’s shootout.
“Shots fired, shots fired!” a dispatcher cried. “One officer down at that location, one officer down at that location.”
“Ambush, ambush!” another officer yelled out.
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