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Sex-crime fugitive Charles Mozdir's dog noted by tipster, leading to NYC shootout, official says
Police were able to track down California sex-crime fugitive Charles Mozdir, who was killed Monday in a shootout with officers, because he was traveling with his black Labrador named Lucky, a federal official said yesterday.
A tipster who telephoned federal investigators after Mozdir was featured a week ago on John Walsh's CNN program "The Hunt" knew that the fugitive had a dog named Lucky - a fact that hadn't been disclosed on the show, San Diego supervisory deputy U.S. Marshal Steve Jurman said.
The fact that the tipster knew the animal's name was a critical piece of corrobation, Jurman said in a telephone interview.
“We are always looking for that little something that made it stand out as more credible . . . this was the real deal,” Jurman said of the tip about Lucky.
The tipster has not been identified by officials but two federal officials said the informant wasn't from New York City.
Jurman, whose office received hundreds of tips on Mozdir, said information from the tipster was passed to the New York/New Jersey federal fugitive task force.
When Mozdir, 32, was approached by NYPD officers and federal marshals Monday at the Smoking Culture on West Fourth Street, he began firing, wounding one police detective and two marshals. Task force members then killed Mozdir.
Ryan Westfield, one of the wounded marshals, was released from Bellevue Hospital Center on Tuesday, as was Patrick Lin, the other wounded marshal, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service in Brooklyn said. Det. Mario Muniz, 45, who was wounded in the abdomen, could be released from the hospital as early as Wednesday.
Police and federal investigators yesterday were trying to piece together Mozdir's life since he became a fugitive in June 2012 in a child molestation case out of Coronando, California.
NYPD detectives had searched Mozdir's apartment at 621 E. 11th St. but found nothing of significance, police spokesman Stephen Davis said.
Near the smoke shop, people remembered seeing Mozdir with his dog.
Max Suarez, 36, who works at an architectural firm near the smoke shop, said Mozdir was working there about a year, adding “he was low key and he sat in the corner of the store as if he was in a little cave.”
Reached in California, Mozdir's grandfather, also named Charles, remembered his grandson as being a handsome, strapping young man, not the person depicted in mug shots.
“That didn't look like Charlie, he must have gained 20 pounds since I saw him," said Charles Mozdir, 90. “He used to visit at Easter time," he said.
(Maria Alvarez, Matt Chayes, Alison Fox and Zoe Lake contributed to this story)