NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - Two police officers were shot in a public housing project in the Bronx Thursday evening, according to authorities. The shooting happened at about 8 p.m. in the Melrose Houses at 320 East 156th Street in the Melrose section.
Police Officers Patrick Espeut, 29, and Diara Cruz, 24, were on patrol a staircase inside the Melrose Houses when they "encountered armed suspects and were shot," the NYPD said. The wounded officers were rushed to Lincoln Hospital. Cruz was hit in the torso and Espeut was hit in the cheek.
The NYPD tweeted that "Current conditions are not life threatening at this time." Officials said the officers, both two year veterans, are in stable condition. Espeut was released from the hospital on Friday afternoon.
The New York State Air National Guard said Espeut also serves as a technical sergeant assigned to the 105th Airlift Wing's public affairs section as a broadcaster. He has been a member of the wing for 10 years.
"Technical Sgt. Espeut is a profoundly professional airman at the 105th Airlift Wing so it does not surprise us at all that he conducted himself with courage and distinction in his duties with the NYPD," Col. Timothy LaBarge, commander of the 105th Airlift Wing, said in a statement. "We are relieved that his injuries, although serious, are not life threatening and we are hopeful for a speedy recovery."
It is unclear how many suspected gunmen were involved but one suspect was dead. That man, who sources told Fox 5 was identified as Malik Chavis, 23, appears to have shot himself inside an apartment. Police recovered two guns.
Mayor Bill de Blasio was delivering his State of the City address a few miles away in the Bronx when the officers were shot and had highlighted dropping crime in the city. Aides did not alert the mayor about the shooting while he spoke. After he finished his speech, aides rushed him and other officials off stage and to the hospital.
A massive police mobilization took place. Dozens of police vehicles responded to the area of the shooting, police helicopters circled overheard, and officers on the ground scoured the scene. Radio chatter indicated that the housing complex was "on lockdown."
Two on-duty police officers have been shot in the Bronx tonight. Current conditions are not life threatening at this time. Updates to follow— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) February 5, 2016
The two officers shot tonight in the Bronx are in stable condition. Please keep them both in your prayers— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) February 5, 2016
Proud of my officers, hopeful for their speedy recovery, grateful for the many expressions of concern and support on their behalf.— Commissioner Bratton (@CommissBratton) February 5, 2016