NEW YORK: New York police opened fire 18 times in downtown Manhattan on Thursday before subduing a suspect armed with a meat cleaver who seriously wounded an off-duty detective, police said.
Acts of violence are rare in broad daylight in Manhattan, which has seen record-low crime rates after decades of tough policing.
The suspect gave chase shortly after 5 pm (2200 GMT) in response to alleged criminal mischief, police said, refusing to rule out terrorism as a possibility.
“At this point, the initial radio run was (for) criminal mischief,” said department chief James O’Neill, who is poised to take over as New York police chief. “As part of our investigation, nothing is off the table.”
Akram Joudeh, 32, tried to remove a parking boot from a car not far from Penn Station, then fled from officers on foot after pulling an 11-inch (28-centimeter) meat cleaver from his waistband, police said.
An initial attempt to taser him failed. When he mounted the front grille of a marked police car, a detective in civilian clothes attempted to subdue him.
The off-duty officer sustained a six-inch gash from his temple to his jaw, at which point police opened fire 18 times.
The suspect is in critical but stable condition in the hospital, the detective is in serious condition and two more officers sustained non-life-threatening injuries, O’Neill said.
Asked by reporters whether it was necessary to fire 18 shots in a busy area, O’Neill replied: “Keep in mind that he had just attacked an off-duty officer who has a 6-inch gash on his face and he has a 11-inch cleaver.”