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Former NYPD Officer Pleads Guilty In Pelham Shooting

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- For the first time ever, a New York City police officer stood in open court Tuesday and pleaded guilty to attempted murder of unarmed civilians.

As CBS2's Lou Young reported, Officer Brendan Cronin admitted that he ambushed and opened fire on a car while he was off duty in Pelham.

Cronin admitted his guilt without explanation in Westchester County court in White Plains. Like a groom at his wedding over and over, Cronin said, "I do," as he answered questions about whether he agreed to plead guilty.

He admitted to the charges in the entire indictment that charged him with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault and driving while intoxicated in the April 2014 incident.

"You freely and voluntarily admit that you committed those offenses, and you shot into that the vehicle multiple times?" Westchester County Assistant District Attorney Tim Ward asked.

"I do," Cronin replied.

Cronin's tight-lipped plea followed months of negotiations.

Authorities said Cronin was drunk when he pulled up to a car stopped at a red light in Pelham and opened fire in on April 29, 2014.

He initially claimed he blacked out after a day of police weapons training and heavy drinking.

Former NYPD Officer Pleads Guilty In Pelham Shooting

Robert Borelli and his friend Joseph Felice were headed home from a hockey game at the time of the attack. Felice was shot six times and barely survived. Unreleased security video showed him stepping out behind the victims' car stopped at a traffic light in Pelham, and shooting into it.

The judge, citing an otherwise unblemished history, agreed to sentence Cronin to nine years in prison. Watching from the gallery, the victims of the shooting were not happy with the deal at all.

"I am sure that if I fired a weapon into a police car, I would be doing more than nine years," Felice said.

Speaking exclusively with CBS2's Young on Monday, Felice said he wanted a sentence of 12 1/2 years for Cronin, which is half the maximum.

"We're looking for a double-digit sentencing for Mr. Cronin and I would right now be satisfied with half of the maximum of 25 years," he said. "I'm looking for justice and a stiff sentence to make sure this doesn't happen to someone else again. Officer Cronin is lucky I survived."

Cronin said nothing as he left court after the hearing.

"We never heard the words, 'I'm sorry,'" Young said as Cronin left court. "Can you say 'I'm sorry?'"

Cronin was silent as a woman walking alongside him said "excuse me" and kept reporters at a distance.

Cronin has one last week of freedom before he surrenders to authorities, according to Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore. In repeated encounters with the assailant at the courthouse since the shooting, the victims said Cronin has never shown a glimmer of remorse – not even during his plea change hearing.

"I was two people behind him putting money in the machine -- you know, to pay for parking," Borelli said, "and when he turned around, there was no acknowledgment."

Felice and Borelli are also suing the NYPD for what they say is a tolerated culture of alcohol abuse. They claim Cronin got drunk with his supervisor at City Island bars during and after weapons training at the nearby police training facility at Rodman's Neck.

With the guilty plea, Cronin was immediately fired by the NYPD. He had been suspended with pay since shortly after the shooting.

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