HUNTINGTON STATION, N.Y. (AP) — A suspect accused of shooting a suburban New York police officer while fleeing a traffic stop was ordered held without bail Thursday.
Sheldon Leftenant, 22, of Huntington Station, was ordered held without bail on attempted aggravated murder and resisting arrest charges during his arraignment in Suffolk County District Court.
Police said Leftenant shot Officer Mark Collins after a traffic stop in Huntington Station. He was arrested about an hour after the shooting, which happened just before midnight Wednesday.
Defense attorney Ian Fitzgerald said his client says he is innocent.
Collins, a 12-year veteran assigned to the Gang Unit in the Second Precinct, was in plainclothes and driving an unmarked vehicle when he stopped a car for a vehicle and traffic violation on Route 25 in Huntington Station. He was wounded in the neck and hip and hospitalized in serious condition.
Police Commissioner Edward Webber said at a morning press conference that four people were in the car and one of them, now identified as Leftenant, ran from the vehicle when Collins and two other officers approached.
Webber said Collins confronted him about a block away. The suspect fired twice at the officer, striking him in the neck and hip, police say. He was arrested about an hour later.
"He is a hero and we are thankful that his injuries, although serious, are not worse," Webber said of the officer.
Collins was brought to Stony Brook University Hospital by police helicopter. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the officer was in "serious condition" and remained in a medically-induced coma in the intensive care unit.
Bellone said Collins was "speaking and able to communicate" when he arrived at the hospital.
Collins "confronted evil and fortunately, angels were on his side," Bellone added.
"While we are at home, sleeping comfortably in our beds, these officers are out there working to apprehend the people who are doing harm," he said. "We are grateful tonight that the officer has a good prognosis."
Dr. James Vosswinkel, the hospital's chief of trauma and emergency surgery, said that Collins' injuries do not appear to be life-threatening and that the officer "has a very favorable prognosis."
Collins is married with no children. He was named the Suffolk County Police Officer of the Year in 2008.