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Officers’ shift was over when they returned to search for armed robbers and were shot in the Bronx

Posted at 11:01 PM, Jan 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-06 08:15:28-05

THE BRONX (PIX11/CNN) -- Two plainclothes New York City police officers were responding to an armed robbery when they were shot Monday night in the Bronx, police said.

One officer -- a 30-year-old man shot in the arm and lower back -- was undergoing surgery Tuesday morning and is listed in critical condition, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said. The other -- a 38-year-old man -- was shot in the chest and arm, and listed in stable condition.

The shooting happened just after 10:30 p.m. Monday on East 184th Street in the borough's Tremont section. It comes little more than two weeks after another pair of NYPD officers were shot and killed in the line of duty.

"This is another indicator of the dangers our officers face in the line of duty," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "Thank God, these officers will recover."

The officers were near the end of their shift when a call came in about an armed robbery at a grocery store, police said. The pair, along with three other plainclothes officers, ran to the scene.

"These officers did something that is extraordinarily brave and they did it as part of their commitment," de Blasio said. "They came off their shift. Upon hearing this call, they went back out in search of these criminals."

They spotted two men who matched the description of the robbers. One was inside a Chinese restaurant, the other on the street outside the restaurant.

When the officers identified themselves, the man inside the store came out and began firing, Police Commissioner William Bratton said.

The two officers were struck. In the ensuing gunfire exchange, one of the attackers may also have been struck, Bratton said.

The suspects ran away and hijacked a car. The car was later found abandoned, along with a black revolver. (Photo: Vinny Shields)

The suspects ran away and hijacked a car, according to police. The car was later found abandoned, along with a black revolver. (Photo: Vinny Shields)

The men ran away and hijacked a white Camaro, police said. The car was later found abandoned near East 188th Street and Park Avenue, along with a black revolver, pictured below.

Police recovered this .44 caliber black revolver at east 188th Street and Park Avenue. (DCPI)

Police recovered this .44 caliber black revolver at east 188th Street and Park Avenue. (DCPI)

The still-at-large attackers are described as Hispanic males, between 25 and 30 years old who were wearing dark clothing. One of the men has a close-cropped beard and is seen in surveillance footage released by police Tuesday.

Sometime after the shooting, a man checked himself into a hospital in upper Manhattan with a gunshot wound to the back. Police are trying to see if he is connected to the shooting, and until then are not calling him a suspect.

There is a $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect who shot the officers, according to an NYPD tweet.

In a tweet, the 121st Precinct pleaded for prayers for the officers.

Councilman Richie Torres, who represents the central Bronx, said the shooting "underscores, in the most painfully human terms, the extraordinary risk that officers take in keeping our neighborhoods safe from violent crime."

"The two criminals responsible for the shootings deserve no mercy at all: they should be swiftly apprehended and prosecuted aggressively to the fullest extent of the law," Torres added in a statement.

Fordham University’s Rose Hill campus issued a warning to students nearby, saying that a suspect was seen at Fordham Road and Third Avenue, according to a student's tweet. Staff and students are advised to stay on campus because of heavy police activity in the surrounding area.

The shooting comes little more than two weeks after a pair of posthumously promoted detectives were "assassinated" while sitting in their patrol car.

Detectives Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were ambushed and fatally shot Dec. 20 by Ismaaiyl Brinsley in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

The shooting exacerbated tensions between de Blasio and the department, prompting officers to turn their backs on the mayor the night of the shooting, and again at the funerals for both Liu and Ramos.

On Monday, de Blasio and Bratton scolded the officers, calling the protests "disrespectful."