Cop shot in Washington Heights released from hospital to cheers from fellow officers

Police investigate a shooting that injured an officer and killed a suspect on Thursday in Washington Heights. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

Officer Justin Vartanian, 34, was shot in the armpit Thursday afternoon while confronting a suspect in a parking lot, police said.

Police investigate a shooting that injured an officer and killed a suspect on Thursday in Washington Heights.
Police investigate a shooting that injured an officer and killed a suspect on Thursday in Washington Heights. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Drew Angerer

An NYPD officer who was injured in a deadly shootout with a suspect in a Washington Heights parking lot was released from the hospital on Friday.

Officer Justin Vartanian, 34, walked out of Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in Morningside Heights to cheers and applause from his brothers in blue as other officers saluted.

Vartanian, of Long Island, was responding to a report of gunfire in the area of 187th Street and Wadsworth Avenue on Thursday when he encountered the suspect, according to police. He chased the man, identified by the medical examiner’s office as 42-year-old Omarfy Yeje, to a parking lot on Broadway just north of 187th Street, where the two exchanged gunfire, cops said.

The five-year veteran of the department was shot in the armpit as his partner in the 34th Precinct anti-crime unit was pulling into the parking lot in an unmarked police vehicle, according to investigators. Yeje also shot at the arriving officer, who returned fire and hit him in the chest, police said.

Yeje was pronounced dead at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, police said. The medical examiner’s office said Friday he died from the gunshot wound to his chest.

NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, speaking at a news briefing on the shooting Thursday night, said the officers’ confrontation with the suspect "provided another reminder of how brave and dedicated police officers face grave threats every day keeping this city safe."

Lauren Cook