Police: Man shot after hammer attacks has been mentally ill
NEW YORK (AP) — A man who attacked four people with a hammer this week was shot and wounded by police Wednesday after he pulled the weapon from a bag and struck an officer at least three times on a crowded street near Penn Station, police said.
David Baril, 30, was hospitalized in critical but stable condition with at least two gunshot wounds, said Manhattan Chief of Detectives William Aubry. The two officers were responding to an unrelated assault at about 10 a.m. blocks from Madison Square Garden in midtown Manhattan when they noticed Baril on the street, wearing a hood and a mask, he said.
“When he turned around, he violently started swinging,” Aubry said. Surveillance video captures the man striking Officer Lauren O’Rourke about three times before her partner, Geraldo Casaigne, fires four shots. Both O’Rourke and Baril fall to the ground.
Police Commissioner William Bratton said she was undergoing testing and suffered back and possibly head injuries.
“These officers acted professionally and heroically this morning,” Bratton said, adding that Casaigne likely saved O’Rourke’s life.
The hammer was, for a time Wednesday, lying in the middle of intersection. Authorities believe it’s the same weapon used in four attacks this week.
On Monday evening, a 34-year-old woman was struck in a park. A few hours later, a 28-year-old woman in Union Square noticed a man looking at her, and he then pulled a hammer out of a bag and bashed her head. Another attack happened about 10 minutes later when a 33-year-old was struck from behind. Officers also discovered that a 20-year-old man was attacked with a hammer earlier Monday in a different part of the city.
Aubry said they tracked the suspect to a subway station where he used his metro card. Officers obtained an image of him and, using facial recognition technology, matched a photo with one on file at the department, Aubry said. His photo was circulated among officers heading out on patrol.
Baril has at least eight arrests and a history of schizophrenia and paranoia, police said. He had voluntarily left a mental institution a few months ago, police said.
The investigation into both the hammer attacks and the shooting continues. But Bratton said the surveillance footage clearly shows the suspect attacking the officer.
Baril’s most recent address in the Bronx has no phone number.
Associated Press writer Deepti Hajela contributed to this report.