Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi honored five members of the Nassau County Police Department for their bravery in connection with a shootout that occurred after a robbery attempt at a CVS store in Franklin Square.
Sergeant Kevin Cotton and police officers Richard Soto, Frank Discala, Samuel Morales and Richard Muller visited with the county executive as he congratulated them and thanked them for their heroism.
On Sunday night, Sept. 21 at about 9:50 p.m., police responded to CVS, located at 640 Franklin Avenue, where they were told there was a robbery in progress.
According to a published report, the subject took an employee to the store's office where they were emptying the safe.
Police entered the store and when they had just about reached the office, they were encountered by the subject. The subject retreated to the rear of the store and exchanged gunfire again. Police also exchanged fire with the subject outside, in the rear of the store. The subject was fatally wounded by a gunshot, although police believe the fatal wound came from the subject's own gun.
Luckily, there were no injuries to any of the officers or any civilian. The officers said they relied on their training. All of the officers are from the county's fifth squad, except for officer Morales, who is from the sixth squad, but happened to be in the area on his way to work. "Not to say anything bad about anybody else, but I was glad to have these three guys and Officer Morales be the ones in there," said Sergeant Cotton.
"All of sudden, I started running in there just to help them out. It's just instincts. You see an officer who needed help and you just react," said Officer Morales.
The police officers were well aware of two other robberies that occurred in the same proximity prior to the CVS incident so the officers were prepared.
The officers said getting everyone out of the store unharmed was the most important part of the job since the subject had no qualms about firing on the officers.
"Just knowing each other, we just did things without even thinking about it and I think it clicked. I think we were surprised when he [the subject] actually jumped out of the office and engaged us in gunfire as opposed to us knowing he's there and taking some time before it escalates into that situation. I think that was pretty much the only time we were surprised, when he jumped out. Other than that, it was just a reactive thing from our training. We were thinking. Everything just worked out great," said one of the officers.
When the subject retreated and exited the building, he encountered Officer Discala. The subject opened fire and officer Discala returned fire. A foot chase ensued into the creek.
The officers said there were four or five events that had occurred in a matter of minutes. In that time, the officers did their jobs while putting their lives at risk. They attribute their success to their training and a little bit of luck.