The NYPD officer who was fatally shot while struggling with a suspect in the Bronx on Sunday died by friendly fire, Commissioner James O’Neill said Monday.
Officer Brian Mulkeen, 33, was shot twice by fellow officers who responded to the scene near 1132 E. 229th St., which is part of the Edenwald Houses NYCHA complex in the Bronx, around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, according to O’Neill.
Mulkeen was with two other officers patrolling the area, which has seen a recent uptick in gang activity and shootings, when they tried to stop two men for questioning, O’Neill said. One of the men, identified as 27-year-old Antonio Williams, took off and the officers chased him to the ground.
During the struggle, Mulkeen was heard yelling "he’s reaching for it" at least twice, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said on Sunday. Mulkeen fired his weapon at the suspect five times, O’Neill said, and five fellow officers fired 10 rounds. Two of those bullets struck Mulkeen, he said.
Although Williams had an illegal .32-caliber revolver on him, O’Neill said the gun was not fired during the incident.
Mulkeen suffered gunshot wounds to the head and torso, and was rushed to NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi where he was pronounced dead, according to police and the city medical examiner’s office. Williams was also pronounced dead at the hospital, police said.
"This is a tragic case of friendly fire, but make no mistake we lost the life of a courageous public servant solely due to a violent criminal who put the lives of police and all the people we serve in jeopardy," O’Neill said at a news conference Monday.
Mulkeen is the second cop to die by friendly fire this year. In February, Det. Brian Simonsen was fatally shot by NYPD officers while responding to an attempted robbery in Queens.
When asked if the department would make any changes to training in the wake of Mulkeen’s death, O’Neill said they would review recordings of the shooting to "learn from this and move forward."
The shooting was captured on five NYPD body-worn cameras and remains under investigation. Mulkeen was not able to activate his body camera before the struggle ensued, O’Neill said.
Williams had several prior arrests, including a burglary conviction in Rockland County, and was on probation for a narcotics-related arrest last year, according to cops.
The revolver that was recovered at the scene was purchased in 1971 in Richmond, Virginia, according to Deputy Chief Kevin Maloney, of the NYPD Force Investigation Division. "Its whereabouts from that point to this point are still under investigation," Maloney added.
Mulkeen served with the NYPD for more than six years and was assigned to the Bronx Borough Anti-Crime Unit. O’Neill lauded the veteran officer for his tireless work, specifically with combating illegal firearms.
"Mulkeen clearly had such a long and productive career ahead of him," O’Neill said. "He had made about 270 arrests so far in his career, the majority of them being felony arrests and a large number of which involved taking illegal guns off the streets."
Wake services for Mulkeen, who lived in Yorktown Heights in Westchester County, will take place Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. at Smith, Seaman & Quackenbush Inc. Funeral Home in upstate Monroe, according to the funeral home’s website.
Officers lined up outside of the city Office of the Medical Examiner on Monday to pay respects as Mulkeen’s body was transported to the funeral home.
A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Sacred Heart Church in Monroe.