NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- An NYPD officer was shot three times and wounded in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, on Wednesday afternoon.
The officer was shot shortly after 5 p.m. in the parking lot of a White Castle restaurant at Empire Boulevard and Utica Avenue. And it all started with a routine stop for bus fare evaders, CBS 2's Jessica Schneider reported.
At a news conference Wednesday evening, NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks III said the incident began when a a pair of rookie officers -- James Li, 26, and Randy Chow, 30 -- saw two people getting on a B46 city bus through the back door and attempting to evade paying.
Police Officer Shot In Legs In Crown Heights, Brooklyn
One suspect ran off west on Empire Boulevard, turned, and fired at the two officers – striking Li. The two officers both returned fire, but Li fell to the ground while Chow pursued the suspect, Banks said.
Li suffered gunshot wounds to both legs and the groin, police said.
Police Officer Shot 3 Times In Crown Heights, Brooklyn
"I head a lot of gunshots. I ran out. I saw people running towards White Castle. I ran over there, and there was a cop down," said witness James Zitis.
Chow transmitted a call for assistance.
Good Samaritans directed the additional officers to help them find the suspect -- identified as Rashaun Robinson -- and point out the building where he was hiding out.
Robinson was arrested on the fifth floor of a building at 455 Schenectady Ave. in Brooklyn, Banks said. A Smith & Wesson .45-caliber handgun was found at the scene, and ballistics tests showed that the gun matched up to shell casings at the scene, Banks said.
"A dangerous felon (is) now off the street and a firearm off the street, all as a result of very good police work by two rookie police officers," police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at the scene.
Meanwhile, two Good Samaritans – both off-duty Emergency Medical Technicians, attended to Li, police said.
Twenty-three year city EMS veteran Khadija Hall, and 26-year veteran Shaun Alexander, are both FDNY EMTs at EMS Station 58 in Canarsie, Brooklyn. They were off-duty in a car when they heard shots and saw Li down in the street, and began treating him with their tech bag to stabilize him.
Li was conscious, alert and was to undergo surgery at Kings County Hospital Center on Wednesday evening, police said.
Authorities did not believe Li's injuries were life-threatening, 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reported.
Chow was also hospitalized, police said. It was not immediately clear how he was injured.
A third officer who was pursuing the suspects was also treated for lacerations to her chin, police said.
Robinson had six prior arrests and an active warrant out of Pennsylvania for narcotics, Banks said.
In the news conference at Kings County Hospital Center on Wednesday evening, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he had visited the injured officers and praised their bravery.
"They had a purposeful attitude that it was just in a day's work. They were expecting it to be a part of their jobs," de Blasio said. "I have to tell you, they did it so professionally and in such an impressive manner."
He also expressed gratitude for the Good Samaritans who led officers to the building where they found the suspect.
"We're so proud of the men and women of the NYPD and what they do every day. We're so proud who are willing to serve us so much they will put themselves in harm's way. We're also proud when our fellow citizens stand up and do the right thing and help the police to do their job," de Blasio said. "So, a lot of very important things happened today a lot of things that show how good our police are, how this is the best police force in the world, and also how good our citizens can be in coming to the aid of our police in doing their job."
The second suspect who tried to get on the bus without paying remained at large Wednesday night, police said.
Li is the first NYPD officer to be shot this year, and the first to be shot under the new administration of de Blasio and Bratton.
Li and Chow were both graduates of the most recent Police Academy class in December, and were on an Operation Impact assignment to watch over city buses, police said.
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