The gun used to shoot two officers in Melrose Houses.
The gun used to shoot two officers in Melrose Houses.

Residents say they feel safe despite shooting

Residents of Melrose Houses say they are satisfied with police patrols in their building even after a violent incident on Feb. 4 in which a gunman shot two police officers before killing himself.

“I feel safe. I’ve never seen nothing wrong in the area,” said Pedro Gantier, 43, who has lived in the NYCHA complex on East 156 Street for five months.

Gantier added that he never had any interaction with the police before last night when he was escorted to his apartment in the building where the shooting occurred, for his safety.

According to police, Officers Patrick Espeut, 29, and Diara Cruz, 24, were shot and wounded at around 8:00. on Thursday evening after encountering two men in or near the sixth floor stairwell. NYPD officials said Espeut, Cruz and another officer were conducting a vertical patrol of the building when they encountered two men. The alleged shooter, Malik Chavis, pulled out a handgun and shot Espeut in the face and Cruz in the abdomen before running up a flight of stairs into an apartment on the 7th floor. The third officer was unharmed.

When responding officers entered the the 7th floor apartment shortly after Chavis had gone in, they found him dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, police say. They took four people from the apartment into custody for questioning at the 40th Precinct, including the man who had been with Chavis when the run-in in the stairwell occurred.

Cruz and Espeut were rushed to Lincoln Hospital. Espeut was released this afternoon but Cruz remains in the hospital, though officials say she is expected to make a full recovery.

Despite the incident, residents said they feel safer with vertical patrols, a practice that drew criticism last week when a housing cop shot and killed a resident in a Brooklyn NYCHA building.

Lisa Moore, who lives across the street from the Melrose Houses, says police patrols are a good thing.

“I like the patrols,” said Moore, 45. “We need more cops out here.”

The quick response by police was surprising, she said, adding that she would like to get to know the officers who regularly patrol the buildings.

“They came so fast. There must have been 100 or 200 cops here last night,” Moore said. “We don’t know them on a personal level. It would be nice to get to know them on a personal level.”

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