Hero cop in bank robbery on the mend

An off-duty police officer from Ozone Park continues to recover from a gunshot wound he received over the holiday weekend after thwarting an attempt by two men identified as career criminals by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to hijack his family's car for use as a getaway vehicle following a bank robbery they had allegedly committed moments earlier.
&#8220Officer Lopez could have no way of knowing how dangerous the individuals he encountered this afternoon were,” said Kelly in a statement released following the incident in which Lopez chased down one of the two suspects despite having been shot in the leg by him.
Police Officer John Lopez, 37, was seated in his family's car with his wife, Peggy, 4-month-old son and mother-in-law when two men wearing masks and gloves approached the car, police said. One man, Dion Mines, tried to open the passenger door as the other, Joseph Pennington, knocked on the driver's window with a gun and told Lopez to get out.
Lopez, who according to published reports doesn't want to be labeled a hero for his actions, shouted while identifying himself as police. He then bolted from the car and began to chase the two men north on 55th Avenue in Elmhurst and away from the HSBC Bank at 87-03 Queens Boulevard that police said had just been robbed.
According to the police, Mines and Pennington had entered the bank shortly after 12 p.m. on Saturday, December 30 where they gathered employees and customers together at a single teller's station at gunpoint. They carried blue bags into which they ordered tellers to empty their cash drawers, as they are suspected of having done in two previous robberies at nearby Citibank and North Fork branches also on Queens Boulevard.
Published reports put the amount they stole in the HSBC heist at about $15,000.
While fleeing, Pennington turned and shot at Lopez. Lopez returned the fire. Both men shot a second time. Lopez hit Pennington in the abdomen and leg and Pennington hit Lopez in the upper left thigh.
According to police, Pennington dropped his .38-caliber pistol and a bag of money as he fell to the ground. The injured Lopez then moved in to contain Pennington before he could recover his gun.
Police captured Mines, who was released from prison after serving 15 years for manslaughter in 2006, along with a second bag of money from his hiding spot beneath a car parked at a nearby diner, they said.
According to police, Pennington had previously been arrested 16 times on charges that included 20 felonies-six of which were for criminal possession of a weapon.
Mines was arraigned in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on Sunday, December 31, on charges of armed bank robbery, two counts of car jacking and use of a loaded fire arm. He is being held without bail and could face up to life in prison if convicted of the charges, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney.
As of press time, Pennington remained in critical condition at Elmhurst Hospital, according to a spokesperson there.

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