2 NYPD cops wounded in shootout with migrant teen on scooter in Queens traffic stop

NEW YORK — Two NYPD cops were wounded in a shootout with a migrant teen on a scooter they stopped early Monday for riding the wrong way down a Queens one-way street, police said.

Officer Richard Yarusso, struck in his bullet-resistant vest, and Officer Christopher Abreu, hit in the leg were treated at Elmhurst Hospital and released about six hours later.

Yarusso “was more concerned about his partner” than his own wound as he used a tourniquet to slow the bleeding from Abreu’s leg, Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Hendry said.

The suspect, 19-year-old Bernardo Raul Castro Mata, was struck in the right ankle when at least one officer opened fire and was taken to New-York Presbyterian Hospital Queens, where he was undergoing surgery. The gun he allegedly used to shoot the cops was recovered.

Castro Mata entered the U.S. illegally from Venezuela through Eagle Pass, Texas, last July and had been staying at a Ditmars Blvd. migrant shelter that used to be the Marriott LaGuardia Hotel, cops said.

“This is a bullet hole,” Mayor Adams said at a press conference at Elmhurst Hospital as he held up the vest worn by one of the officers. “Because of this vest a young police officer is going home — senseless act of violence, a total disregard for life.”

The officers, both 26 and assigned to the 115th Precinct’s Public Safety Team, were investigating an area robbery pattern involving crooks on mopeds and scooters. That’s when they spotted the suspect riding the wrong way on 82nd St. near 23rd Ave. in East Elmhurst about 1:40 a.m., NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said.

They tried to pull him over but the teen got off the scooter and ran off.

“Our officers began a foot pursuit, which led for several blocks,” Caban said. “During the pursuit, the suspect fired multiple rounds at our officers, who then returned fire.”

At the shooting scene on 23rd Ave. near 89th St. blood stained the street as investigators took notes and processed evidence.

Caban, who with Mayor Adams visited the cops and their families at the hospital, said they’re “in good spirits.”

About 7:30 a.m., Yarusso helped wheeled his partner out of the hospital in a wheelchair to applause from fellow cops who lined the street to see both officers released.

Castro Mata has no prior arrests in the city but is a suspect in several Queens robbery patterns. One victim was a woman who was attacked, with her credit card stolen and later used in a smoke shop, cops said.

At the shelter where Castro Mata has been staying, another migrant said metal detectors would seemingly make it impossible to sneak a gun inside.

“But outside who knows where he could have kept it,” the migrant said. “We’re all immigrants. We came to work.”

The patterns are part of a larger trend, NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said, noting that through June 1, hundreds of crimes including shootings, robberies and phone snatches have been linked to more than 80 patterns around the city.

There were 20 such know patterns operating during the same time last year — and none during the same time in 2022, he noted.

The wounded officers are “very brave and courageous for what they did tonight, what they’ve been doing to keep New Yorkers safe,” NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey said.

Police have recovered 16,341 guns since the start of the Adams administration including 2,746 this year.

“Every day New Yorkers are not wearing these,” Adams said, referring to the vest.

The shooting is the first of an NYPD cop since Officer Jonathan Diller was killed in March as he tried to pull a gun suspect out of a car in Far Rockaway..