By Chris Francescani
(Reuters) - A New York City police officer patrolling a Manhattan housing project was shot in the chest at point blank range early on Thursday by an unidentified gunman who remained at large.
Housing officer Brian Groves, 30, was in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital after the 3:30 a.m. shooting in a stairwell of the Seward Houses on the Lower East Side, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
He said police discovered a man with a gun as they opened a stairway door and chased him down four flights of stairs before the suspect, described as a black man in his 20s with beaded dreadlocks, fired a silver revolver, hitting Groves.
The officer was wearing a bulletproof vest, according to New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly.
"Officer Groves was doing what so many officers do every day; stopping a suspicious individual to question him," Kelly said in a statement.
Crime in city housing developments was the focus of a recent Reuters investigation into the NYPD's controversial stop and frisk policy, which critics say unfairly ensnares minorities.
Police officers routinely patrol New York housing projects, where one in five city murders occurred last year and where one in four guns were seized.
A Reuters analysis released Tuesday showed the densest concentrations of police stops fell in and around city housing developments, home to poor families and where 90 percent of residents are black or Hispanic. More than half the searches happened inside - in stairwells, lobbies and corridors.
Groves is the ninth NYPD officer to be shot in the line of duty this year.
(Additional reporting by Janet Roberts; Editing by Doina Chiacu)