A protective vest saved the life of a police officer after he was shot in Brooklyn by an emotionally disturbed man who then barricaded himself inside his home before taking his own life, NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said Thursday.
Officer Hart Nguyen was released from Jamaica Hospital Center late Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours after being shot, police said.
Fellow officers lined up and applauded as Nguyen, with his arm in a sling, was wheeled out of the hospital around 4 p.m. Nguyen, 30, was greeted by an even larger sea of blue as he stood up and waved to his supporters outside of the hospital.
Police were called to the home on Ridgewood Avenue, near Essex Street, in Cypress Hills around 4:35 p.m. Thursday by a woman who said her 29-year-old son was emotionally disturbed, but not violent and unarmed, O'Neill said.
When Nguyen, of the 75th Precinct, and emergency personnel approached the bedroom, the son fired several shots, hitting him once in the arm and twice in the chest, according to O'Neill. Nguyen didn't return fire.
"What could have been just another day, just another call turned into something much worse," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The shooter, whose name was not immediately released, barricaded himself inside the bedroom for several hours. When emergency services personnel were eventually able to get in, they found the man dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, O'Neill said. Two guns were recovered by his side, he said.
Nguyen, who has about two years on the force, was taken to Jamaica Hospital Center in stable condition, O'Neill said, adding that the protective vest absorbed both bullets to the chest and likely saved his life.
"Thank goodness, the officer is gonna be fine. Recovery might take a while but I saw the injuries, spoke to him, spoke to his partner, and they're going to be fine," O'Neill said during a Thursday evening news conference at the hospital.
"This is an example of the bravery of the NYPD. Thank God our officer is going to come through in this case," de Blasio said. "He had a great attitude. He actually, you know, was trying to even make light of the situation in his own hospital bed."
About a block from the scene of the shooting, dozens of residents gathered near the orange tape that warned people not to cross. Police cars lined several streets in the neighborhood as helicopters circled overhead.
Amerool Ali, 60, said she was shocked to hear of what happened. "And this is a nice neighborhood ... You can walk anytime in the night. I was shocked, I'm really surprised."
"It's a shame," she added. "It's so sad."
Jessica Valera, 23, said when she got to Ridgewood Avenue all she saw were "police coming in, police coming out."
"I never hear anything like that, just in the news," she said, adding she only moved to the neighborhood a month ago. "I don't know how to react ... I can't believe it. It's weird."
With Alison Fox and Newsday