There was a massive police response in the East Village March 23 shortly after 8 p.m. after someone fired on a police cruiser, shattering its windshield. One officer returned fire, a police spokesman said and a suspect was taken into custody that night but it was not clear if he was the shooter.
Police subsequently told Our Town Downtown that the suspect was 20-year-old Richard Mendez from Columbia St. on the lower East Side. He was only charged with two counts of criminal possession of a loaded firearm, menacing and attempted assault, a police spokesperson said. He was not booked on the more serious charge of attempted murder because cops are trying to figure out if Mendez is the shooter who fired a weapon or if that was another suspect. The NYPD’s Force Investigation Division van--which is used to investigate deadly force incidents--was spotted arriving at the scene about 90 minutes after the shooting.
Police were initially responding to a report of two brothers fighting with at least one seen brandishing a firearm on the night the shooting erupted.
Two officers were taken to Lenox Hill Hospital for observation, reportedly for ringing in their ears, but neither they nor the suspect were wounded by any bullets that were fired, cops said.
The shooting, outside an apartment building at 330 E. 4th Street, resulted in the closure of an entire block between Avenue C and Avenue D for about three hours.
While the street was closed, some residents were trying to figure out how to go through gardens on E. 5th Street to enter apartment buildings via backdoors.
Ayo Harrington, a block association leader who was inside the closed off block when the shooting occurred said police were allowing her to stay inside the police tape but far away from the crime scene which occurred mid-block. “If I leave, they won't let me back in,” she said.
“This is gonna go on all night,” lamented one area resident. “I have to be at work at 7 am,” he said.
But shortly after 11 p.m., Harrington said police started escorting people back to their apartments on the block. Cops said their investigation is continuing.