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Gunbattle on New York subway leaves 2 cops injured; 3rd cop shot elsewhere

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Two New York police officers were shot by an armed subway rider in Brooklyn and an off-duty officer was shot during an attempted robbery at a Bronx auto shop in the span of an hour Thursday, bringing the number of NYPD cops wounded by gunfire in the first three days of 2013 to a quarter of the total shot all of last year, authorities said.

In Brooklyn, a lieutenant and three officers assigned to the transit division were in plainclothes on patrol in two subway cars of a Manhattan-bound N train shortly after 7:30 p.m. when they noticed a man moving illegally between the cars. Officers Lukasz Kozicki and Michael Levay stopped the man as the train pulled up to the Fort Hamilton Parkway stop in @!$%#r Heights, intending to question him and pull him off the subway, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Thursday evening. 

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When asked for identification, the suspect appeared to reach for a wallet, but pulled out a 9-millimeter Taurus and opened fire on the officers, Kelly said. Kozicki, 32, was hit three times -- once in each thigh and once in the groin. Levay, 27, was hit once in the lower back but was able to return fire, fatally shooting the suspect.

One passenger was grazed in the gunfire exchange and wasn't seriously hurt, Kelly said. Other passengers on the train were able to flee onto the platform when the gunfire erupted. The station was not crowded at the time of the incident, Kelly said.

Kozicki and Levay were taken to Lutheran Medical Center, where they were listed in stable condition and are expected to make full recoveries. A witness told police the gunman appeared to notice the officers' bullet-resistant vests and aimed low before he fired.

The unidentified suspect had a past criminal record of five assaults, including one with a knife, officials said. 

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Earlier Thursday, an off-duty officer was shot in the Bronx during an apparent robbery attempt. Officer Juan Pichardo was working at his family's dealership when two men, one of them armed with a handgun, walked into the store and, after pretending to be interested in a vehicle, brandished the weapon.

Pichardo was shot in the leg during the fracas that ensued; he was not armed. He and another employee managed to wrestle one of the suspects to the ground and disarm him. The second suspect who had entered the store fled to a getaway vehicle outside the building, while Pichardo held the other suspect until police arrived. Police caught up with the getaway car a short time later and arrested three occupants inside. Their identities are unknown. 

Pichardo was taken to the hospital with a bullet wound to the leg, but is expected to be OK. He was the third NYPD officer to be shot on Thursday, the third day of the year. Only 12 police officers were shot in all of 2012, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday.

“In recent weeks, we've heard some people say that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But sometimes the good guys get shot – and sometimes, they are killed," the mayor said Thursday night from the hospital where the two officers wounded in the Brooklyn incident were recovering. "Tonight, thank God, three good guys – three New York City police officers, who acted heroically – are going to make it. But we owe it to the good guys to do whatever we can to protect them – just as they do whatever they can to protect us. Instead, Washington is letting the bad guys shoot our police officers, our children, our neighbors – and it just has to stop."

Bloomberg's "good guys with guns" remark was an apparent retort to the National Rifle Association'srecent statement that "the only thing that stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." The mayor has been a vocal advocate for tighter gun control.