NEW YORK (AP) — A California man who skipped town after being accused of molesting a boy was killed and three law enforcement officers trying to arrest him were wounded in a daytime shootout inside a small smoke shop in one of New York’s most bustling neighborhoods, officials said Monday.
The man, Charles Richard Mozdir, was recently featured on a CNN show about fugitives. He was wanted in a San Diego case and was charged with lewd acts upon a child younger than 14, a criminal complaint said.
The shootout between Mozdir and members of the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force happened just after 1 p.m. in Greenwich Village not far from New York University in a highly trafficked tourist area bounded by jazz clubs, restaurants, a subway station and a basketball court.
Mozdir’s handgun was recovered at the scene, and 20 extra rounds of ammunition were found in his pocket, Police Commissioner William Bratton said.
A police detective first entered the narrow smoke shop and identified Mozdir, who apparently was alone, Police Commissioner Bratton said, before leaving and returning with the U.S. marshals.
The detective was shot at least twice, in the stomach below his protective vest and in the right chest, which could have been deadly were it not stopped by the vest, Bratton said at a hospital.
One U.S. marshal was shot in the elbow and another in his buttocks, he said. All three were in stable condition and had been visited by city and federal officials.
“They do what law enforcement personnel do every day,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “They have to put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us.”
Mozdir’s case had recently been featured on CNN’s “The Hunt with John Walsh.” Mozdir was accused of abusing the boy while babysitting him, and authorities later found evidence of child pornography and bestiality on his cellphone and computers, according to the show’s website, quoting federal authorities.
Authorities had searched for him in Coronado, Georgia, California and Mexico, the show said.