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Furor Over N.Y. Police Shooting

Hundreds of Orthodox Jews took to the streets in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn Monday night to protest the shooting of an emotionally disturbed man by New York City police officers.

The police say the man was armed with a hammer, and he allegedly attacked an officer, reports Correspondent Dana Adams of WCBS-TV in New York. The suspect was shot numerous times, and was pronounced dead on arrival at an area hospital.

The suspect allegedly was involved in an attack with the hammer just this past Sunday. Police say he used the hammer to hit a car, as well as a man in the car.

"We thought the police were very well-trained in how to handle a mentally disturbed person," community activist Isaac Abraham said this morning in a phone interview. "It's disappointing, and many feel that six officers would have been able to subdue a person swinging a hammer without shooting him. That's the anger."

The shooting happened about 6:40 p.m. Monday evening. The dead man, Gideon Busch, 31, had recently moved to Borough Park from Long Island.

Police received a 911 report of a man brandishing a hammer and threatening children while loudly singing. At least five officers arrived and found Busch in the basement of his house, police said.

The officers retreated onto the street and Busch followed them, still carrying the hammer, said Detective Robert Samuel, a police department spokesman. He did not know why the officers retreated.

One officer sprayed tear gas on Busch but failed to subdue him, police said, and in the confusion the sergeant fell to the ground and Busch swung at him, striking him several times with the iron claw hammer.

"At that time they gave him several orders to drop the hammer," Samuel said. "He did not drop the hammer."

The officers fired at least 12 shots at Busch, striking him in the torso at least seven times, police said.

Busch, who was wearing a prayer shawl and leather pouches containing pieces of scripture, was taken to Maimonides Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. He was known in the neighborhood for his outbursts, and residents said they had called police about him many times.

Busch was not raised in the Orthodox Jewish community but had recently moved there and was becoming more religious. His mother, Doris Busch Boskey of Dix Hills, Long Island, told The New York Times that her son had recently joined an extremely religious group and had been refusing treatment for a kidney ailment and depression.

"He needed help," said Mrs. Boskey, who is married to a psychiatrist. She added: "I don't know why they couldn't have found another way. I don't know why they had to kill my son."

Several hundred residents, many alleging excessive police force, gathered in the street as dozens of police investigated the shooting. There were reports that some threw eggs at officers and others blocked trffic, but there were no arrests.

In what was largely a peaceful gathering, several of the scores of people still in the street until about 2:30 a.m. chanted, "Jewish blood is not cheap!" They accused the officers of failing to use their nightsticks and unnecessarily shooting Busch. Fliers reading "Danger! Police Crime!" littered the areas where police were concentrated.

Mayor Rudolph Giuliani met with community representatives at City Hall Tuesday morning. "The incident was unfortunate but from everything we can tell ... the police officers should be given the benefit of the doubt," he said.

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