JAMAICA — A veteran MTA cop and military hero was stabbed and critically injured by a knife-wielding suspect at a Long Island Rail Road station Wednesday morning — but managed to squeeze off several shots and kill the deranged assailant, officials said.
The bloody struggle at the LIRR Jamaica Station at Sutphin Boulevard began about 9:30 a.m. when Police Officer John Barnett, 45, who was at a taxi stand outside the hub, was confronted by 46-year-old Edgar Owens, officials and witnesses said.
Owens, who authorities described as emotionally disturbed with a history of attacking police officers, pulled a knife on Barnett.
"Please drop the knife!" Barnett screamed at Owens, according to MTA Police Chief Michael Coan. "Drop the weapon!"
Undeterred, Owens drove the knife into Barnett's face, slashing his eye, authorities said.
Moshen Almufkahi, a supervisor at a nearby bodega, said Barnett's face was pouring blood — but the quick-thinking cop managed to get off four shots, striking Owens with three bullets.
"I thought it was fireworks," Almufkahi said of the Independence Day shooting. "In less than a minute, I heard a lot of bullets.
"I went out there. I saw him on the floor," he said of Owens. "He looked dead."
Several MTA workers saw Owens go down after the bloody battle — and then noticed Barnett was wounded too.
"We realized the officer was hurt too," one MTA worker, who declined to give his name, said.
It was the first time Barnett fired his weapon, MTA officials said.
"He did exactly what we expect of all our officers," said Joseph Lhota, MTA's executive director. "In a split second he confronted a violent individual."
Barnett — a 13-year cop and a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy reserves who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan — was stabbed at least once in the left eye, an MTA spokeswoman said.
Paramedics rushed him to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition, Marjorie Anders, the transit spokeswoman, said. Doctors ran a CT scan and rushed him to surgery.
"The only thing we can tell you is what the surgeon told us, which is that it's a devastating wound," Lhota said. "It was so swollen it was hard to tell what was what."
Belinda Barnett-Andrea, the cop's sister, raced to the hospital and spoke to her brother before surgeons started working on his eye.
"He said he's going into surgery as a fighter and he's going to come out as a fighter," Barnett-Andrea said of her brother, who has a 12-year-old son and lives in Central Islip. "And he said he was hungry."
Anders said Barnett was expected to pull through.
"His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening," Anders said. "He was conscious and talking."
Barnett's mom, Betty, was by his side, relatives and officials said.
"The mother is as strong as anyone I have ever seen in this situation," Lhota said. "She was there consoling her son."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, too, met with Barnett and praised him for his bravery.
"I spoke with Officer Barnett prior to him going in to surgery and thanked him on behalf of all New Yorkers for his courage," the governor said in a statement. "Today we are reminded once again of the bravery and sacrifice of our men and women in law enforcement, and the many dangers that accompany the important job of keeping our state's residents safe."
Owens, who lives in The Bronx, was taken to Jamaica Hospital, too, officials said. He was pronounced dead there, officials added.
It wasn't the first time Owens attacked a cop. In 2006, he walked into the 26th Precinct stationhouse in Harlem and punched a police officer without provocation, officials said. The next year he entered the 103rd Precinct stationhouse and ordered cops to arrest him, threatening to again punch somebody if they didn't.
Barnett-Andrea, meanwhile, said her family was proud and grateful that John Barnett stopped Owens — and perhaps prevented others from being hurt or killed too.
"We're very proud of him that he was on his p's and q's and was very alert," she said. "We're very proud of him that he was alert and that no one was hurt and he was able to see himself through."
Theodore Parisienne and Jill Colvin contributed to this article.