Nassau County Police Officer Shot, Killed
Updated at 3:23 p.m. PDT
BELLEROSE TERRACE, N.Y. (AP) — A motorist fleeing a hit-and-run traffic accident fatally shot a Long Island police officer in broad daylight near the Belmont racetrack, then apparently killed another driver not far away during a carjacking, 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 silver Honda running on flat tires that 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 the officer's chest, said Police Chief Steven Skrynecki.
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 drove away, they said. The car was later found abandoned in Queens.
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.
Previous coverage on LawOfficer.com:
Hays reported from New York.