New York – A California man who skipped town after being accused of molesting a boy was killed and three law enforcement officers – a New York Police Department dectective and two U.S. marshals – trying to arrest him were wounded in a daytime shootout inside a small smoke shop in one of New York's most bustling neighborhoods, officials said.
The man, Charles Richard Mozdir, was recently featured on a CNN show about fugitives. He was wanted in a San Diego case and was charged with lewd acts upon a child younger than 14, a criminal complaint said.
The shootout Monday between Mozdir and members of the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force happened just after 1 p.m. in Greenwich Village not far from New York University in a highly trafficked tourist area bounded by jazz clubs, restaurants, a subway station and a basketball court.
Mozdir's handgun was recovered at the scene, and 20 extra rounds of ammunition were found in his pocket, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said.
A police detective first entered the narrow smoke shop and identified Mozdir, who apparently was alone, Bratton said, before leaving and returning with the U.S. marshals.
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NYPD Detective Mario Muñiz was hit at least twice in the groin. One marshal was hit in the elbow, the other in the buttocks. Muñiz was recovering from surgery at Bellevue Hospital on Monday night, police officials told the New York Daily News.
The detective didn't fire his weapon, but the federal agents fired multiple rounds, authorities said.
"They do what law enforcement personnel do every day," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "They have to put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us."
Edoardo Gelardin, who was heading to lunch shortly after the shooting when he saw officers loading the victims into ambulances and officers with assault weapons sealing off the scene, said it was "shocking and out of place."
"It was a little overwhelming to see a scene like that," he said.
A $1 million bench warrant was issued for Mozdir's arrest in June 2012 after he skipped an arraignment in San Diego Superior Court on child sexual assault charges, a spokesman for the San Diego County district attorney said.
Mozdir, a wedding photographer, also had been charged with attempting to dissuade a witness from prosecution, the criminal complaint said. He had posted $250,000 bail.
Mozdir's case had recently been featured on CNN's "The Hunt with John Walsh." Mozdir was accused of abusing the boy while babysitting him, and authorities later found evidence of child pornography and bestiality on his cellphone and computers, according to the show's website, quoting federal authorities.
Authorities had searched for him in California, Georgia and Mexico, the show said.
The San Diego County public defender's office, which represented Mozdir in the child molestation case, didn't immediately return a message seeking comment Monday.
The violence recalled a deadly shootout that left a gunman and two auxiliary police officers dead on another Greenwich Village street in March 2007.
That gunman, David Garvin, killed a bartender, according to police, and then turned crowded streets packed with storied taverns into a shooting gallery. Unarmed volunteer officers Eugene Marshalik and Nicholas Todd Pekearo were killed.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.