NYPD Officers Injured In Queens Shootout With Venezuelan Migrant

Two NYPD officers were wounded in an early morning shootout with a suspect in Queens. The incident happened at 1:40 a.m. on Monday when officers attempted to apprehend a suspect on a moped on 23rd Avenue in East Elmhurst.

The suspect, 19-year-old Venezuelan migrant Bernardo Raul Castro-Mata, fired at the officers during the pursuit. Officer Christopher Abreu, 26, was shot in the leg, and Officer Richard Yarusso, 26, was hit in the vest and grazed in the stomach. The officers returned fire, hitting Castro-Mata in the foot before arresting him.

At a press conference, Mayor Eric Adams highlighted the life-saving role of the officer’s vest. “This is a bullet hole because of this vest, a young police officer is going home. Senseless act of violence, a total disregard for life,” Adams said. “Our officers responded with a level of discipline and focused professionalism, and today we thank God.”

Both officers were taken to Elmhurst Hospital and have since been released. Police Commissioner Edward Caban commended the medical staff, stating, “They worked hard on our officers; they worked with great skill. We know it could have turned out quite differently.”

Patrick Hendry, president of the NYC PBA, praised the officers’ actions, emphasizing their teamwork. “The officer shot in the vest was more concerned about his partner shot in the leg, getting a tourniquet. That’s what partners do in the NYPD; they save each other’s lives,” Hendry said.

Castro-Mata, who entered the U.S. through Eagle Pass, Texas, in July 2023, was transported to NY Presbyterian Hospital in Queens. He is also a suspect in several ongoing robberies in the area. NYPD Detective Bureau Chief Joseph Kenny noted, “Similar scooters and bikes are being used citywide to commit crimes; these crimes include shootings, robberies, and phone snatches.”

ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) New York City have issued an immigration detainer against Castro-Mata with Queens Central Booking. The suspect’s firearm was recovered at the scene, and he is expected to face multiple charges related to the shooting and other crimes.

This incident underscores the challenges faced by law enforcement as they address rising crime rates involving stolen vehicles used in criminal activities.