BELLEROSE TERRACE, N.Y. – An ex-convict was arrested on Tuesday on charges he fatally shot a Long Island police officer in broad daylight Tuesday near the Belmont Park racetrack and then killed another driver not far away during a carjacking, authorities said.
The suspect was identified as 33-year-old Darrell Fuller, who was on parole after serving time for attempted murder, authorities said.
A 911 caller reported hearing gunfire in Queens amid a massive manhunt for Fuller. Responding officers found him in a vehicle — not the one carjacked — with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Fuller was hospitalized in police custody for treatment of an undisclosed wound and couldn't be reached for comment.
The deadly rampage was another tragic blow to Nassau County officials, coming less than a week after another Nassau officer was killed while responding to a traffic accident.
Police Officer Arthur Lopez "lost his life to a cold-blooded killer," County Executive Edward Mangano said at a news conference.
Lopez, 29, was on patrol in Bellerose Terrace, a community at the border of New York City's Queens borough and Nassau County. The officer and his partner spotted a damaged silver Honda that was "running on rims," suspecting it was wanted for leaving the scene of a hit-and-run accident, authorities said.
The officers gave chase, and the car pulled over. There was "a brief exchange of words" between Lopez and the driver before the driver left the vehicle and fired one round into Lopez's chest, police Chief Steven Skrynecki said, adding that the officer wasn't wearing a bulletproof vest.
The shooter got back into his car and drove away and then accosted the second victim, 52-year-old Raymond Facey, authorities said. He shot the Queens man in the head, dragged him out of his car and left him dead on the roadway as he drove away, they said. The car later was found abandoned in a residential neighborhood in Queens.
The slayings touched off a search for Fuller that included heavily armed New York Police Department officers going door to door in Queens. Authorities also closed the Cross Island Parkway for several hours, causing traffic delays.
Fuller had served four years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted murder in 2005, authorities said. He was jailed again in 2010 after violating his parole but was released in May 2011.
"We're endeavoring to find out what triggered this entire series of events," Skrynecki said while announcing the arrest late Tuesday.
Before the shootings, Fuller had left a hospital and gotten in car accident, the chief added, but he wouldn't elaborate.
A man who witnessed the officer's shooting as he was stopped at a gas station along the highway said it looked like a routine traffic stop.
"The officer's walking up to the car. They just pulled out (a gun) and shot," said Paul Walcott, a music producer from the Queens neighborhood of Bayside. "He went right down. He got hit point blank. He went straight down."
The car then sped off, heading south on the Cross Island Parkway, a north-south highway along the border of Queens and Nassau County.
"In broad daylight, this time of day, it was incredible to see something like that," Walcott said.
The shooting unfolded within blocks of Belmont Park, the racetrack where the Belmont Stakes is held.
Highway patrolman Joseph Olivieri was killed Thursday while responding to a traffic accident.
The driver, who was later charged with driving while intoxicated, smashed into one car, then drove on a short distance before stopping. A car then hit that driver's vehicle, turning it sideways in the road. The police officer who arrived to investigate was then struck by an SUV.
Thousands of police officers attended a funeral Monday for Olivieri outside a Long Island church.
Lopez lived on Long Island and was single. He joined the police force in 2004.
Hays reported from New York.