OZONE PARK, Queens (WABC) — Police say an off-duty officer jumped into action Monday night when a gunman started shooting at two employees inside a business in Queens, killing one of them.
The deadly incident unfolded at the Craft Beer Lotto Cigar store just after 6 p.m. on Cross Bay Boulevard in South Ozone Park.
Police say a 63-year-old homeless man, identified as Steven Cohen, entered the store and started to argue with 26-year-old store employee Mohmediyan Tarwala and was asked to leave. The two store employees then pushed the suspect out of the store when he started acting unruly, according to authorities. Cohen left and went across the street to a beer shop and asked a worker, Chris Hanlon, for help and to call 911. Hanlon, who had no idea the man had been kicked out of the convenience store, said Cohen didn’t look good.
“He looked like he was in the middle of a medical emergency, like a stroke,” he said. “I called and turned around, and he walked off.”
Authorities say Cohen returned to the store and shot Tarwala once in the stomach. Police say he also fired at the second employee, a 32-year-old, who was not hit. An off-duty officer, Jason Maharaj, was in the store at the time and saw the incident. He tackled Cohen, disarmed him, and held him until police arrived and took him into custody.
“He sees the individual with a gun, makes a tactical decision, tackles the individual, gets the gun, holds him for responding police officers,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said.
Commissioner Shea states the off-duty officer is Nothing short of Heroic.
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