NEW YORK (AP) — A suspected shoplifter opened fire inside a Times Square sporting goods store after being confronted by a security guard Thursday night, hitting a tourist in the leg before fleeing into the street, according to police.
As police chased the shooter a few blocks on the busy streets of Midtown, Manhattan, he fired twice at an officer, before escaping into a subway station, New York Police Department officials said.
The wounded tourist, a 37-year-old woman, was expected to recover. The shooter, described by police as a male between 15 and 20 years old dressed in all white, was still at large Friday.
“We are looking for one male. He is the shooter,” Chief of Patrol John Chell said at a news conference at the scene Thursday. “He shot at our cops not once but twice, and also shot an innocent female one time in the leg.”
At around 7 p.m. Thursday, the shooter and others were witnessed at the store on West 42nd Street and Broadway putting items of clothing in a bag. In the lobby, the security officer confronted two members of the group, had “words with them” and took the property back, Chell said.
That’s when the shooter pulled out a gun and fired at the guard, he said. But instead of hitting the employee, the bullet struck the tourist. The shooter and one of the other people with him ran off.
Four blocks away on 47th Street — near a triangular Times Square pedestrian plaza where tourists line up to buy Broadway tickets and snap selfies with the area’s iconic billboards — two officers quickly spotted the pair and took the second person into custody.
The shooter ran off towards 6th Avenue with one of the officers giving chase, at one point cutting between buildings. There, he turned and fired at the officer, Chell said.
“Our officer draws his weapon. He cannot fire,” he said. “Too many people around, there’s too many people ducking.”
The suspect fired again from under his arm and continued to flee, running into a subway station, where he was last seen. Video showed him going to the tracks and coming back, Chell said.
Chell said the shooter discarded his jacket while fleeing. News footage showed police tape surrounding a white jacket and baseball cap lying in the street across from Radio City Music Hall.
The shooting prompted a huge police presence and search that temporarily closed streets in the area. A reward of as much as $10,000 is being offered for information about the shooter, police said.
Once one of the seediest places in New York, synonymous with pornographic theaters and sex work, Times Square experienced a revitalization in the 1990s that transformed it into one of the city’s most family-friendly destinations. On most evenings, it is packed with gawking tourists and street performers, though it also still attracts pickpockets and hustlers who take advantage of out-of-towners.
Overall, crime rates have plummeted in New York City since a spike at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people shot in the city dropped 39% between 2022 and 2023, a trend that has continued into the new year.
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