When 26-year-old NYPD officer James Li and his partner Randy Chow approached two suspects who jumped in through the back door of an MTA bus, the intersection of Empire Boulevard and Utica Avenue was buzzing with traffic and pedestrians.
As the officers approached the suspects to get them off the bus, both bolted. After a short chase, one of the suspects "spun around with just about 4 feet between the officers," according to police, and fired multiple shots from a .45 caliber Smith and Wesson, according to a law enforcement source.
Officers Li and Chow returned fire, but Li fell to the ground - he had been shot in both legs. As the suspect took off again, good Samaritans stepped in. In a photo obtained by PIX11 from the scene, two women are seen huddled over Officer Li – in civilian clothing coming to his aide as several blocks away police arrived at 455 Schenectady Avenue.
The two women happened to be off-duty FDNY EMTs Khadijah Hall and Shaun Alexander from Station 58 in Canarsie, Brooklyn. Hall and Alexander gave officer Li first aid as they waited for an ambulance to arrive.
Bystanders who saw one suspect race into a building got the attention of officers and led them to it. Entering the building they ascended the stairs, and on the 5th floor would encounter Rashaun Robinson – with a .45 Smith and Wesson in his waistband. Police would later learn of an active warrant for a narcotics charge against the 28-year-old.
Officer Li was brought to Kings County Hospital where he is being treated for his injuries which he is expected to survive. Both he and Officer Chow are graduates of the most recent police academy class in December.
Li is the first NYPD officer to be shot in 2014.