NEW YORK -- An off-duty New York City Department of Correction officer is being credited with saving lives after police say he spotted a man aiming a gun at a crowd during a Fourth of July celebration and acted quickly.
The Sunday party quickly came to an end when gunfire rang out at 214th Place and Jamaica Avenue in Queens Village. Police said a 23-year-old man allegedly pulled out a gun and pointed it at the crowd.
"In the vicinity of the crowd was an off-duty New York City correction officer, who saw the male pointing the gun at the crowd," NYPD Chief Jeff Maddrey told reporters late Sunday night.
Off-duty Correction Officer David Donegan pulled out his own gun and shot at the gunman at least five times, striking him once in the torso. Donegan was shot in his leg by who police say was a second person to get involved in the shootout.
"A third person did come to the hospital shot, but we're still investigating the connection, if he was here at this event," said Maddrey.
"Wow, I'm shocked. Last time was five of six years since something like that happened here," Queens Village resident Joe Bishun said.
Donegan was deemed a hero by Mayor Eric Adams and the Correction Officers' Benevolent Association, which shared the following statement:
"Yesterday evening, as a crowd of people were observing an event remembering the passing of a friend, two individuals pulled out weapons and pointed them, firing at the crowd including our Correction Officer, David Donegan. Thankfully, Officer Donegan, who was off duty at the time, immediately pulled out his weapon and engaged them, firing several shots. During the exchange of shots fired, our officer was hit in the leg and transferred to a nearby hospital. While the police investigation remains ongoing, one thing is crystal clear, had our officer not exercised his training and made a split second decision, this incident could have cost many innocent people their lives, including his own. His actions were nothing short of heroic. I thank Mayor Adams for visiting him last night and ask the public to call 1-800-577-TIPS with any information that can help with the police investigation and bring the suspects to justice. In the meantime, we are praying for the officer's speedy recovery."
Adams said the shooter shouldn't have been on the streets in the first place, given his criminal past.
"One of them involves a robbery with a firearm. While on sentencing, he's back on the street with a firearm," the mayor said. "They're finding their way back on our streets to continue to wreak havoc on innocent people."
Officials told CBS2 Donegan was treated and released from the hospital overnight.
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