NEW YORK — A man suspected of attacking four people with a hammer this week was shot and wounded by police Wednesday after he pulled a hammer from a bag and lunged at officers who approached him on the street near Penn Station, police said.
Manhattan Chief of Detectives William Aubry said the two officers were responding to an unrelated assault when they noticed the suspect and started to follow him.
"When he turned around, he violently started swinging," Aubry said. An officer backed away and fell to the ground.
The other officer fired four times, striking the suspect twice. Police say the man is in critical but stable condition at a hospital.
The shooting took place shortly after 10 a.m. blocks from Madison Square Garden in midtown Manhattan. Traffic was stalled as police investigated the shooting. A hammer lay in the middle of the intersection at 37th Street and Eighth Avenue.
Police Commissioner William Bratton said investigators have an abundance of video of the incident. He commended the officers, saying it's possible one saved the other's life.
Police said the man is the same person who attacked four people with a hammer two days earlier.
On Monday night, a 34-year-old woman was struck in a park. A few hours later, a 28-year-old woman in Union Square noticed a man looking at her and he then pulled a hammer out of a bag and bashed her head. Another attack happened about 10 minutes later when a 33-year-old was struck from behind. Officers also discovered that a fourth attack happened earlier Monday in a different part of the city. A 20-year-old man was injured.
Throngs of onlookers gathered as police set up a crime scene.
Anthony O'Grady, 26, said there was a chase and then the suspect turned around.
"And they shot him," O'Grady said. He said he was in Union Square earlier in the week when one of the hammer attacks occurred.
The investigation is ongoing. The officer who was backing away from the suspect suffered head and back injuries after she fell to the ground.