Accused child molester Charles Mozdir, 32, was killed during a shooting at a West Village smoke shop on Monday, police said. Credit: City of Coronado Police Department
A suspected sex offender died during a shootout inside a West Village smoke shop that left two U.S. Marshals and an NYPD detective wounded on Monday, officials said.
Charles Mozdir, 32, an accused child molester whose story appeared on CNN's "The Hunt with John Walsh" last week, was killed after opening fire at the law enforcement officers when they tried to apprehend him at Smoking Culture, a West Fourth Street head shop, shortly after 1 p.m., authorities said.
A former wedding photographer, Modzir had been on the run since being arrested in California for sexually abusing a feverish 7-year-old boy in June 2012, CNN reported. After skipping an arraignment at a San Diego Court, the last sign of Mozdir was in Georgia, when a bloodhound picked up his scent near U.S. Highway 17.
More than two years later, authorities received a tip Mozdir was working at the smoke shop. Working with a federal Fugitive Task Force, a 45-year-old NYPD detective entered Smoking Culture and identified Mozdir, though police said he had changed his appearance.
"The detective, accompanied by United States Marshals, entered the shop to make an apprehension," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said. "Immediately upon entering, a gun battle ensued."
The detective, who had more than 20 years on the job and was recently promoted, was hit twice in the stomach, police said. Bratton said the bullet-proof vest the detective wore may have saved his life.
Two marshals were also wounded. All three men were recovering at Bellevue Hospital.
Mozdir was pronounced dead at the same hospital. His .32 caliber revolver was recovered at the scene and 20 spare rounds of ammunition were found in his pocket, Bratton said.
Details of the shooting --including if Mozdir fired first -- are still under investigation.
After visiting with each of the law enforcement officers with Bratton, Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the work of the law enforcement officers.
"They have to put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us," he said. "These three men did that."
CNN reported that authorities tried to arrest Mozdir after receiving a tip on his whereabouts when the episode of "The Hunt" was re-aired on Sunday.
Mozdir had been wanted for five counts of committing forcible lewd acts on a child as well as trying to persuade a witness from prosecuting a crime. A $1 million warrant was issued for Mozdir's arrest and authorities in California had warned he owned a gun.
He was also suspected of traveling with his black labrador dog named Lucky.