GRAMERCY, Manhattan — NYPD officers on an overnight stakeout, investigating a citywide string of robberies outside restaurants, opened fire on a car that hopped a curb while attempting to flee, according to a senior police official.
Uniformed officers were sitting in unmarked police cars around 1:20 a.m. Monday near Pergola restaurant on West 28th Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, when they saw a BMW believed to possibly be connected to a recent robbery pattern, police sources said.
The cops used their vehicles to box the BMW in and attempted to perform a traffic stop, police sources said.
That’s when the suspects stepped on the gas and attempted to flee, jumping the curb and speeding on the sidewalk toward a crowd of people, according to the senior police official.
The officers opened fire toward the car in an attempt to stop it before it could strike any pedestrians, police said.
The NYPD confirmed no one was hit by the gunfire.
The BMW made it about a block to West 28th and Fifth Avenue when it struck a pole, bringing it to a stop. No people were ever struck by the vehicle, police said.
One suspect hopped out of the car and ran into Madison Square Park, evading the officers, according to authorities.
Another suspect, who also tried to flee on foot, was caught and taken into custody, police said.
The 19-year-old suspect was taken to an area hospital with minor injuries from the crash, according to a senior police official. It was unclear if he was the driver or passenger.
The NYPD on Thursday identified the suspect as Wilson Mendez, of the Bronx, and said he had been arrested on a criminal weapon possession charge.
Authorities found a firearm in the BMW.
Police said the two suspects have not been definitively connected to the robbery pattern and said their investigation was ongoing.
This string of robberies included an armed robbery-turned-shooting at the high-end Chinese restaurant Philippe back on Sept. 15, officials said.
A man eating outside at the Upper East Side restaurant was shot in the leg when he tried to fight back as two armed masked men targeted outdoor diners in a robbery attempt, police said at the time.
Two other armed robberies outside Manhattan restaurants in August, including Pergola, are believed to be part of the same pattern, authorities said.
According to the NYPD, the robbery pattern consists of at least 12 incidents, 10 of which were in Manhattan, one in Queens and another in the Bronx.
Submit tips to police by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visiting crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, downloading the NYPD Crime Stoppers mobile app, or texting 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Spanish-speaking callers are asked to dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).