THE BRONX — An off-duty police officer was shot Thursday evening as he tried to stop an armed robbery of his family's car dealership in The Bronx, police said.
Officer Juan Pichardo, a father of three, was working at the dealership, at 3040 Boston Rd., when two men, Jeffery Okine, 22, and Tyquez Harrell, 22, entered about 6:30 p.m., one carrying a Bryco .380 handgun, police and relatives said.
At first, the pair pretended to be interested in a red Altima, but soon one of the suspects pulled out the weapon and forced Pichardo and another worker down onto the floor of the dealership's office, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said during a press conference Thursday night.
"They began to ransack the office, looking for cash and the safe, all the while brandishing the weapon in Officer Pichardo’s face," Kelly said.
"A few minutes after the robbery, Officer Pichardo stood up and grabbed the gunman [Okine], who fired, striking the officer in the right thigh," Kelly continued. "Despite being wounded, Officer Pichardo and the other employee wrestled the gunman to the ground and disarmed him."
Pichardo held Okine until police arrived to take the suspect into custody, Kelly added.
Harrell fled with Marquis Daniels, 23, and Rayshaun Jones, 25, who were waiting outside in a white Impala with Oregon license plates, but the three were caught shortly afterward at 183rd Street and Katonah Avenue, according to Kelly.
The four men are facing charges including attempted murder, assault, burglary and criminal possesion of a weapon, according to police.
The owner of a nearby auto body shop said police were responding to another call right down the block when the incident happened.
"I saw them running up [Boston Road], and I said to myself, 'What's going on?'" said Carlos Santos, 54, who has owned the neighboring shop for over 20 years. "But that's how they caught the guys."
Brian Tolentino, 23, Pichardo's nephew and the manager of the dealership, said he got the news in a disturbing phone call from the sales manager, who was held up along with Pichardo as Tolentino was driving a Mercedes from Pennsylvania to the dealership.
"He said, 'We just got robbed,'" Tolentino recalled. "'Juan got shot.' He was hysterical."
Pichardo was taken to Jacobi Medical Center. He is expected to survive.
Family and friends have been visiting the wounded cop since the shooting, Tolentino said.
"Everyone told me he was laughing last night," Tolentino said. "He'll bounce back for sure."
Tolentino said his uncle, who has a wife and three young children, is a caring and dedicated man.
"He loves to treat everyone fairly," Tolentino said. "He's the kind of guy who will stick more than his neck out for you."
“Nice guy. Couldn’t be nicer. His wife was there. They have...young kids," the mayor said Friday during his weekly WOR radio show.
About an hour after the Bronx shooting, two police officers were shot in a gunfight in Brooklyn's Fort Hamilton Parkway N train station that left the suspect dead, officials said.
“We’re so lucky last night,” Bloomberg said. “They’ll all be home in a couple of days, two of them I assume today. And it could have been so much worse."