A police officer is in stable condition after being shot early this morning in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx.
Nelson Vergara, a 12-year veteran of the NYPD, found himself embroiled in a shootout upon returning home just before 5 a.m. Sunday
Police told Metro that a group of men began taunting and shouting at Vergara as he walked home. Vergara, who had gotten off work at 2 a.m., was off-duty and not in uniform at the time.
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A bottle was thrown at him, and Vergara approached the group, police said.
At the same time, a man drove up in a vehicle and stepped out. When Vergara identified himself as a cop, the man allegedly pulled out a weapon and opened fire.
In the subsequent exchange of bullets, Vergara was struck in the shoulder and leg. Even so, he managed to shoot three suspects who are currently in custody, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Vergara, a married father of two girls, ages 4 and 8, was then taken to St. Barnabas Hospital.
“An off-duty officer acted to clean up crime in his neighborhood and was fired on for his efforts,” Bloomberg said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly added that illegal guns are constantly undermining the NYPD’s efforts. “Our officers deserve more than prayers,” he said. “They deserve our commitment to take action against illegal guns.”
Vergara also served two tours of duty in Iraq.
2012 police injuries
No New York City police officer has died this year in the line of duty, but quite a few have been seriously injured. In fact, 2012 has already been deemed the worst year for officer-shooting injuries in at least half a decade.
April 17: Officer Eder Loor was stabbed in the head in East Harlem by a suspect described as emotionally disturbed.
April 8: Four officers were stabbed in two separate incidents on the same day in the Bronx.
April 8: Four officers were shot, three in the leg and one in the face, during a hostage standoff in Sheepshead Bay.
February 14: Officer Kevin Herlihy was shot in the arm after chasing a suspect into a Harlem subway station.
January 31: Officer Kevin Brennan narrowly escaped death when he was shot in the back of the head at point-blank range in Bushwick. The bullet missed his brain and spine by mere inches, officials said.
Dec. 12, 2011: The last cop to be killed in the line of duty is Sgt. Peter Figoski, shot in the head and killed while breaking up a home invasion in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn.