Hell’s Kitchen residents were awoken early Friday by circling helicopters as the NYPD searched for suspects after an overnight confrontation with an off-duty police officer in which the officer’s gun was stolen.
The NYPD reported: “A 42-year-old off-duty officer and a companion were standing in front of a deli on W51st and 9th Ave at 4:34am when they got into a verbal dispute with a group of four men. The verbal dispute escalated into a hand-to-hand physical altercation, as one of the group of four removed the firearm from the officer.”
Police are still looking for the four suspects who fled southbound on 9th Ave in a late-model gray Dodge Charger.
While initial reports indicated that the the altercation had been at Empanada Mama, Socrates Nanas, the owner of the popular 24-hour eatery confirmed: “They had been eating with us, but when police walked in to the store at 4:30/5am my staff were surprised there had been an altercation afterwards down 9th Avenue” outside of Hudson Market Place at 755 9th Avenue at the corner of W51st Street.
Police said that both the officer and their companion were conscious and alert, suffering minor bruising and abrasions. The off-duty officer was taken to Mt Sinai West and their companion was treated at Mt Sinai St Luke’s.