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Off-Duty Cop Shot While Breaking Up Domestic Violence Attack in Queens

By  Jeanmarie Evelly Trevor Kapp and Ben Fractenberg | June 17, 2013 7:19am | Updated on June 17, 2013 3:16pm

 Joseph Koch was shot in the hand during a scuffle with the suspect, who was also wounded, police said.
Cop Shot in Queens While Breaking Up Domestic Dispute
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JAMAICA — An off-duty police officer celebrating Father's Day with his family was shot in the hand after he raced to a neighbor's home to break up a violent domestic dispute in Queens Sunday night, according to the NYPD.

Police Officer Joseph Koch, a 28-year-old father of three assigned to the 101st Precinct, was leaving a Father's Day party at his father in-law's home in Jamaica about 10 p.m. when a boy ran out of a neighboring home at 144-22 South Rd., screaming, cops said.

"Help me. Help me," the 10-year-old boy shouted, then told Koch that his mother was being attacked inside her home, cops and witnesses said. Koch raced to help the boy, and ran into the home with his gun drawn, police said.

Inside, he found Jose Bernazard, 40, who began to struggle with Koch, cops said. Three shots were fired from Koch's gun, NYPD officials said. The officer was shot in the left hand while Bernazard was hit in the stomach, neck and hand, according to police.

Koch was given a breathalyzer test after the shooting, which showed his blood alcohol level was zero, police said.

Both Koch and the suspect were brought to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition, police said. The woman allegedly being attacked, whose name was not revealed, was also brought to the hospital and treated for a laceration on her head, according to cops.

The boy was not injured, police said.

"He saved my life, me and my mom," said the boy, whose name DNAinfo New York is withholding. "He wasn't even on duty."

Bernazard was expected to be arraigned Monday on charges of assault, criminal contempt, aggravated harassment, burglary, endangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest, police said.

The suspect had an "extensive" arrest record and a history of domestic incidents with the woman, and cops had to be called to the house at least six times in the past, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said at an unrelated press conference Monday.

Bernazard kicked in the door Sunday to get inside her house, the woman told police, Kelly said.

The victim's mother, who spoke to DNAinfo on Monday, said her daughter had briefly dated Bernazard but that he became "obsessed with her" when she tried to break things off.

"She didn’t want nothing else to do with him, but he wouldn’t let her be," the woman said, saying she and her grandson are both grateful for Koch's intervention.

The boy said he met with the police commissioner at the hospital Sunday, where he also met Koch and thanked him "for everything," telling the young cop, "you saved my life."

Koch responded, "Anytime," the boy said.

Kelly said Koch — who works on domestic violence cases for the 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway — underwent one surgery on his injured hand, and will likely need more surgeries in the future.

"It's a serious wound. It went into the top of his left hand and came out from the side," Kelly said.

Wilfredo Medina, 60, whose daughter Linda Medina is engaged to Koch and has a 2-year-old daughter with the young officer, said the family had been gathered at his house on Sunday for a Father's Day barbecue a few doors down from where the domestic dispute broke out.

"We were trying to celebrate Father's Day when a kid came out of a house panicking, screaming,'" Medina said. ''It happened in seconds. [Koch] ran inside the house to try to help the lady.''

Medina said he then heard three gunshots ring out.

''I saw my son-in-law bleeding, pointing at the guy telling him not to move," he recalled.

Medina described Koch as a "great man, a great person," and said his daughter and the young cop are planning to marry in November. In addition to his 2-year-old daughter, Koch has two other daughters from a previous marriage, Medina said.

"I'm so proud. I consider him a hero. He might've saved a life in there," he said. "In my point of view, he did what any man should do."

Troy Jordan, 53, who lives next door to the victim, watched the incident unfold and said Koch came to the rescue "like he's Captain America."

''That guy was in the right place at the right time," he said. "He lived up to his shield.''