NEW YORK — Four more suspects have been taken into custody following the deadly shooting of a New York City police officer who was responding to a break-in in Brooklyn, authorities said Tuesday.
They include a man who had struggled with an officer at the shooting scene on Monday. They also include two people who were initially believed to be witnesses, plus a suspected getaway driver, according to NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.
Officer Peter Figoski was shot in the face early Monday.
Two years after he could have retired from police work with a full pension, Figoski was responding to a routine call — backing up other officers checking out a report of an apartment break-in in Brooklyn.
He was met by a fleeing suspect who shot the 22-year police veteran in the face and killed him, police said.
While Figoski's partner chased down the suspected gunman, police were still looking for a second suspect in what they said might have been a drug-related holdup and became the first deadly shooting of an officer this year.
Lamont Pride, 27, was arrested on murder charges. There was no answer to calls at a Greensboro, N.C., address where he told police he lived, and no phone listed for a Brooklyn home. It's wasn't clear when he would be arraigned, and there was no information on whether he had an attorney.
Figoski's career included more than 200 arrests and 12 medals — one of them an exceptional merit award for coming under fire in a brush with a man who would later be convicted as the city's notorious Zodiac Killer of the early 1990s.
He was part of a backup team of officers who responded around 2:15 a.m., after a landlord reported a break-in to a barely finished basement apartment in the East New York section of Brooklyn, police said.
The two suspects had tried to flee through the back of the long, narrow apartment, but they couldn't find a way out and were hiding in a side room full of tools as officers walked past them and started to interview the tenant and a neighbor. They were trying to escape through the front when they ran into Figoski, police said. He was shot once at so close a range his gold collar insignia flew off. A handprint, possibly the suspect's, was found in a pool of blood.
Figoski's partner of three years, Glenn Estrada, was struggling with the second suspect in front of the house when he heard the shot and saw the shooter take off, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. Estrada chased after Pride for blocks before capturing him, Kelly said. Estrada, a decorated 15-year veteran, was treated for a shoulder injury.
"I want to commend Officer Estrada, who had the presence of mind to focus on the man with the gun, and the courage to chase him down and capture him," Kelly said.
Figoski was taken to a hospital, where he died about five hours later. The 47-year-old officer was a divorced father of four daughters: Carolyn, 16, and Corrine, 14, both in high school, and Christine, 20, and Caitlyn, 18, who are in college upstate. Kelly and State Police Lt. Michael Greco arranged to have them flown by helicopter to Albany, N.Y., and then by state police plane to Kennedy Airport so they could be with their father.
His brother Robert Figoski is a retired police officer, and his brother-in-law is currently an officer.
"It is a family that has dedicated its lives to making this city safe," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
The Brooklyn tenant told police he heard the suspects pounding on the basement door, claiming to be police. They got in and demanded money, pistol-whipped him and took $770 in cash and a watch, police said.
Detectives were investigating whether the tenant was dealing marijuana out of the apartment and whether some of the stolen money was drug money. According to police, Pride told them he was at the home to buy pot, and Browne said Pride had made statements implicating himself as the gunman.
Pride is a convicted felon who served a prison term in North Carolina and was wanted by the authorities there for a shooting in August, New York newspapers reported.
Pride had an outstanding warrant against him for aggravated assault tied to an Aug. 5 parking-lot shooting in Greensboro, the New York Post reported.
David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the state court system, told the New York Times that the warrant appeared to say that North Carolina would not seek his extradition if he were arrested outside that state. The NYPD contacted North Carolina authorities twice to press them to change the warrant, but they refused, sources told the New York Daily News.
Pride was arrested on a drug charge in Brooklyn in November but released, the newspapers reported.
Police found a silver, semi-automatic pistol under a parked car near where Pride was arrested. One round had been shot; it was still loaded with 10 more live rounds, Kelly said.
Police found a second gun stashed inside a filthy microwave at the apartment. They believed the weapon, an unloaded revolver, belonged to the at-large suspect.
A Suffolk County police cruiser kept guard Monday outside Peter Figoski's Cape Cod-style home on a quiet street in suburban West Babylon, N.Y.; no one answered the door.
"I got goosebumps all over my body when I heard the news," said Helen Krebs, who lives across the street. She said Figoski's two eldest daughters had babysat for her 5-year-old son, Matthew, and she frequently saw Figoski working on his yard.
"He raised his daughters wonderfully. They were hard-working, conscientious, wonderful, salt-of-the-earth-type people," Krebs said.
During his career, Figoski was one of the first officers to respond to a call of a man having shot his sister in their Brooklyn apartment on June 18, 1996, police said. The man, Heriberto Seda, fired homemade guns at Figoski and other officers from the windows at the start of what turned into a 3 ½-hour standoff with officers. Seda eventually gave himself up, and police then linked him to the "Zodiac" killings that had terrorized New York six years before, when a suspect vowed to kill one person born under each of the 12 astrological signs.Comment on this story
Seda was convicted of three murders and numerous attempted murder counts. He is serving a 235-year sentence.
It was the second time this year an NYPD officer was killed on duty. Officer Alain Schaberger fell nine feet off a stoop and broke his neck while responding to a domestic violence call in Brooklyn in March. The man accused of pushing him has pleaded not guilty to murder.
The shooting Monday recalled the 2007 death of Officer Russel Timoshenko, who was shot twice in the face during a traffic stop in Brooklyn.
Associated Press writers Frank Eltman in West Babylon, N.Y., and Samantha Gross, Colleen Long and Jennifer Peltz in New York contributed to this report.