2 NYPD Officers Wounded By Venezuelan Migrant In Queens

Two New York Police Department (NYPD) officers were injured while confronting a suspect in Queens on Monday. The incident occurred at 1:40 a.m. on 23rd Avenue in East Elmhurst when officers pursued a suspect on a moped.

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

Mayor Eric Adams praised the officers’ professionalism at a press conference, displaying the vest that saved Yarusso’s life. “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 stated. “Our officers responded with a level of discipline and focused professionalism, and today we thank God.”

Both officers were treated at Elmhurst Hospital and have since been released. “They worked hard on our officers; they worked with great skill,” said New York City Police Commissioner Edward Caban. “We know it could have turned out quite differently.”

NYPD PBA president Patrick Hendry noted the bravery and teamwork of the officers, stating, “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.”

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

ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) New York City have launched an immigration detainer against Castro-Mata with Queens Central Booking. The suspect’s gun was recovered at the scene, and he faces multiple charges related to the incident and other ongoing investigations.