By Rich Bockmann
The NYPD is offering a $22,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of John Thomas, wanted in connection with the attempted murder of a Queens anti-gang sergeant who was shot Wednesday night in South Jamaica.
Sgt. Craig Bier, a 15-year department veteran, was driving eastbound on 107th Avenue near the South Jamaica Houses with his partner, Detective Nicholas Romano, around 10:30 Wednesday night when they attempted to stop a man riding a bicycle, police said.
The man fled in the opposite direction, ditching his bike and running down a narrow alley, climbed a tall chain-link fence and jumped off onto the roof of a parked white van, police said.
Bier had run back to try to cut off the suspect’s escape route and when the two confronted each other, they opened fire, with the suspect firing four times — striking Bier in both legs — and the sergeant firing six shots, according to the NYPD.
Bier collapsed on the sidewalk and his partner, who had been chasing the suspect, ran to help after he heard the shots, police said.
The wounded officer was rushed to Jamaica Hospital by a Queens South impact team that had been patrolling the area and heard the gunshots, the police said. A member of the team, Officer Kyle Miller, is a certified EMT and he applied pressure to Bier’s wounds en route.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said a Ruger 9mm pistol was recovered not far from the shooting. He said Bier, 44, has a total of 65 medals, 14 of which are for meritorious police duty.
Police identified the suspect as 25-year-old John Thomas and described him as a black man with long hair about 5-foot-10 and weighing 180 pounds. The statewide non-profit CrimeStoppers, the NYPD and the Policemen’s Benevolent Association have all chipped in to offer the $22,000 reward. Visiting Bier in the hospital early Thursday morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the sergeant was in “remarkably good spirits” and used the opportunity to call for stricter gun laws.
“This is the type of officer the public should thank God they have working for the New York City Police Department,” he said. “This is the 10th member of the department shot this year. No fatalities since Peter Figoski was killed last December. If you remember, Officer Figoski was brought here to Jamaica Hospital,” he said.
““Only one month ago, the commissioner and I visited Officer Brian Groves, another police officer, after he was shot,” the mayor continued. “Between then and now we have had two mass shootings in this country. Thirty-four people are being murdered in this country every single day with illegal firearms, and I think it’s fair to say we are still waiting for the leaders of our country and those who want to be the leaders of our country to stand up and tell us what they’re going to do about this.”
“In the next four years, 48,000 Americans are going to die from illegal guns — being murdered by illegal guns — and we just have to find a way to stop this. We all know that also included in those people, unfortunately, are likely to be people that are members of our families, our friends or a police officer who puts their life on the line to protect us,” he said.
Meanwhile, back at the scene of the shooting, numerous cops scoured the area, hanging up posters and handing out fliers offering rewards for those with information about illegal guns and suspects in police shootings.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.