CITY HALL — Mayor Michael Bloomberg renewed his call for tougher gun laws Monday after a 22-year NYPD veteran and father of four was killed in the line of duty in Brooklyn responding to a robbery.
Officer Peter Figoski died early Monday morning at Jamaica Medical Center after he was shot in the face during a robbery in East New York, the mayor told reporters at LaGuardia Community College, where he was attending a conference on healthcare jobs.
“It was a very sad call I got at four in the morning when I got woken up to be informed about the police officer’s death,” said Bloomberg, who met with Figoski’s parents as well as his two youngest daughters, 16 and 14, at the hospital before his death.
“[I] had to tell his mother and father how serious the condition was. At that point he had not yet passed away, but I think it’s fair to say nobody had any expectations that he would make it. It was a very serious wound,” he said, sounding deeply saddened by the events.
“These conversations, as you might imagine, are the hardest that we have to do, and the worst part of being Mayor. It just does not get easier,” he said.
The tragedy prompted the mayor to renew his calls for tougher gun laws — something he has fought for throughout his third term in office.
Asked if enough was being done, Bloomberg reiterated his calls on Washington lawmakers to do a better job enforcing laws that are already on the books as well as to close the so-called “gun shop loophole” that allows gun-buyers to purchase weapons without a background check.
“This has nothing to do with the Second Amendment,” said the mayor.
“You all know what guns are used for,” he said of semiautomatic weapons, like the one that killed Figoski
“You don’t need armor piercing bullets for hunting. Last time I saw a deer wearing a bullet proof vest was a long time ago,” he said.
“These guns are used to kill people,” he said.
Figoski had responded as backup to a 911 call received at about 2:15 a.m. about a burglary in progress in the downstairs apartment of 25 Pine Street in East New York, Brooklyn, near the border with Queens border, Bloomberg said.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said alleged gunman Lamont Pride, 27, and another man had entered the building and demanded money, then tried unsuccessfully to flee from the back of the apartment when cops arrived. They hid in a side room as the first responding officers walked past them to interview the robbery victim.
The two suspects then tried to make it back out the front door, where they encountered Officer Figoski at the bottom of the stairs.
It was there that Figoski was shot in the face with a semiautomatic weapon, Kelly said.
Pride had five prior unsealed arrests, including several drug-related charges, and was wanted on a warrant for aggravated assault in North Carolina, Kelly said.
A silver 9mm Ruger semi-automatic pistol was recovered under a parked car on the street, according to Kelly. It appeared as though one round had been discharged before the shell casing had jammed, he added.
Officer Figoski had arrested more than 200 people during his career and had received 12 medals of honor, including eight for “exceptional police duty,” Kelly said.