NYPD officer Nelson Vergara, an ex-Marine who served two tours in Iraq, was in the wrong place at the right time yesterday. While coming home from a shift early on Sunday, a teenager threw a bottle at him from a crowd across the street. As Vergara, dressed in plainclothes, approached the group to identify himself as a cop, another man pulled up in a car and began shooting at the 17-year-old beer-slinger, Adonis Almonte. Vergara, a father of two young girls, was hit in the shoulder and the leg, the New York Times reports, but managed to wound the gunman and arrest the relatively lucky Almonte.
The gunman, José Baez, was shot in the hip, while Almonte was hit in the hip and neck. The Post reports that the two young men "had a beef earlier in the evening, and Baez returned for revenge and allegedly fired into the crowd." Vergara just happened to be in between, meaning — oddly enough — that chucking a bottle at a police officer may have stopped Almonte from getting killed.
All three guys were in stable condition yesterday as Mayor Bloomberg used the incident to push gun control. "Shootings like this, sadly, no longer seem to matter to the national campaigns," he said. "But what we will do to get guns out of the hands of criminals, where they're used against our parents and our children, and in this case a police officer and Marine, is far more important than most of the gaffe-gates and other ridiculousness that define our political dialogue."