By Trevor Kapp, Jill Colvin and Wil Cruz
EAST HARLEM — An NYPD cop was critically injured Tuesday after a mentally unstable man drove a knife into his skull, officials said.
Officer Eder Loor, 28, and his partner responded to 1945 Third Ave. in the Franklin Plaza complex just before 11 a.m. for a man "acting in erratic manner," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. A woman at the housing development told cops that her son, Terrence Hale, was out of control and needed to be hospitalized, police said.
But when Loor and his partner, Luckson Merisme, tried to tell Hale that they'd take him to a hospital, he became agitated and confrontational, a witness said.
"He told them, 'Don't touch me!'" said Kodjo Tossavi, 26, a phone technician who works in the area. "And he got mad."
That's when Hale apparently snapped and flashed a 3 1/2-inch knife, officials said.
"He then produced a knife and attacked Officer Loor," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg a news conference. "The knife apparently penetrated the officer's skull at the left temple."
Hale, 26, of East Harlem, is charged with attempted aggravated murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon in the attack, police said.
The mayhem erupted in broad daylight on Third Avenue near East 107th Street, where Hale lives, police and witnesses said.
"The cop was full of blood," said Patricia, 25, who worked in a pet store across the street and declined to give her last name. "I thought the kid punched the cop, but then I realized it was too much blood.
"He was gushing," she added.
Alex, who also works at the pet store, said three or four cops desperately rushed their fellow officer into an ambulance minutes later.
"He had a white towel on the right side of his face," Alex, who didn't want his last name used, added.
Loor — a married father who once served in the Air Force National Guard and has a 5-year-old daughter and whose pregnant wife, Dina, is expecting a son, Bloomberg said — suffered bleeding in the brain and was undergoing surgery, Kelly said.
"The doctors, just before I left, the last update I got was that he is in critical condition, but they were very optimistic," said Bloomberg, who, along with Kelly, visited the officer and his family. "I think they would say cautiously optimistic, but the smiles were on their faces.
"Having said that, he's certainly not out of the woods yet, and we really won't know for a few hours," the mayor added. "I ask all New Yorkers to have him and his recovery in our prayers."
Merisme, meanwhile, was being treated for high blood pressure but is expected to fully recover, Bloomberg added.
After the stabbing, Hale taunted cops who trailed him on Third Avenue, a witness said.
"He was swinging his arms, like, 'Come and get me! Come and get me!'" said Miguel Garcia, 48, who works nearby. "I couldn't tell if he was psycho."
Hale was later tackled by six or seven cops two blocks away from where the alleged stabbing occurred, police and witnesses said.
"They had him on the floor and were all up on him," Tossavi, the phone technician, said. "They picked him off the floor and put him in a car."
Hale has prior arrests in New York for robbery and assault with a knife in 2002 and 2006, respectively, Kelly said. He has arrests in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, too, police said.
The bloody incidentt is the latest in a string of violent attacks against police officers in recent months and comes just days after four cops were shot during a gun battle in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
"Today is another reminder that in a split second a police officer's life can be placed in great jeopardy," Kelly said. "The low crime rate and quality of life that we experience here in New York doesn't come free.
"It comes at a price," he added, "as we learned too well today."
The stabbing also comes a day after a firefighter was killed in a massive fire in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Richard Nappi was killed while battling the three-alarm blaze at 930 Flushing Avenue.
Bloomberg said the sacrifice by Nappi and Loor should serve as a reminder of the dedication firefighters and cops make on a daily basis.
"New York's Bravest and Finest risk their lives every day," he said.