Police were searching Thursday for a man who shot a police officer on the Lower East Side. The officer, shot in the chest, was saved by his bulletproof vest.
Officer Brian Groves, 30, was chasing a man with a gun down the stairs in the Seward Park Housing complex when the man shot the seven-year veteran in the chest from less than eight feet away.
Police blocked off several surrounding streets Thursday while they searched all day for Groves’ shooter.
Fliers handed out at the crime scene described him as a black male in his 20s, about 5-foot-9, last seen wearing a black shirt with red basketball shorts.
Groves is now in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital, where doctors checked his heart.
“It’s really miraculous that he's going to survive,” Dr. Eli Kleinman said at a news conference. “He was shot right over the heart.”
Officials attributed Groves’ survival to his Kevlar bulletproof vest.
“(The vest) kept him alive and will allow him to see his little girls again,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Checking the stairwells shortly before 4 a.m., Groves opened a door to find a man holding a silver revolver. After yelling ‘gun’ to his partner, Groves pursued the gunman down the stairs.
Between the 18th and 19th floors, the gunman turned and shot Groves in the sternum, according to police. Without realizing he had been shot, Groves returned fire and chased the man down more flights of stairs before collapsing.
Antony Rodriguez, 45, who lives in the building across the street, said he was shocked by the shooting.
“Oh man, it’s usually a pretty safe neighborhood,” said Rodriguez, who said he was a corrections officer for 18 years before retiring. “I mean we have the 7th precinct right down the block.”
Rodriquez added that he may have even heard the shots while on his morning run.
“I thought they were the after effects from the fireworks,” he said. “I heard, ‘Boom, boom, boom.’”
The NYPD is offering $10,000 as a reward to find the gunman.
Officer a father of two
Officer Brian Groves is a seven-year veteran with the NYPD, assigned to the housing bureau. He has two young children, the youngest only two weeks old. Groves and his wife live in Long Island. Groves will celebrate his 31st birthday later this month.
Kelly said Groves is the ninth NYPD officer to be shot since January. Other officers who have been attacked this year:
MTA police officer John Barnett had to undergo four hours of surgery after a deranged man suddenly stabbed him in the eye at a Long Island Rail Road station Wednesday.
Officer Kevin Brennan survived a shot to the skull while chasing a suspect in Bushwick in January.
Officer Nelson Vergara was shot in his leg and shoulder in June when he was caught in the middle of a brawl in University Heights. Vergara still managed to arrest one of the men involved in the fight.
Officer Thomas Richards was saved by his gunbelt when a man approached and shot at him and his partner on the Lower East Side in February.
Officer Eder Loor survived a stab wound to the head in East Harlem after an emotionally disturbed man stabbed him through his brain. Loor pulled the knife out himself.