NEW YORK – A quick-thinking police officer is being praised as a hero for racing through a chaotic scene at Times Square to rush an injured 4-year-old to safety after a shooting at the iconic New York City landmark.
Officer Alyssa Vogel swooped in to grab the young girl who had been shot after a spray of stray bullets hit three bystanders in Times Square on Saturday, apply a tourniquet to her leg and bring her to a nearby ambulance.
Vogel, a mother of a 6-month-old herself, in an interview with the New York Post, called the 4-year-old “the strongest little girl I’ve ever seen.”
The New York Police Department said the shooting Saturday evening occurred after a dispute led to shots fired. Three people were injured and are expected to survive: the 4-year-old, from Brooklyn, who was shot in the leg, Wendy Magrinat, 23, from Rhode Island, who was also shot in the leg, and a 43-year-old woman, from New Jersey, who was shot in the foot.
Police have released video of a person of interest but have not made an arrest in the shooting as of Monday.
Vogel, who joined NYPD four-and-a-half years ago, said the child barely cried during the incident, except for when they were applying the tourniquet.
“She was just saying she wanted her mom,” she told the Post. “Her mom was running right behind me, but she was calling for her mother.”
Video posted on Twitter by police shows Vogel with the girl in her arms as she runs toward the ambulance.
Speaking with “Good Morning America,” Vogel said her “motherly instincts” kicked in.
Hearing a child was shot “was definitely more nerve-wracking because you don’t know where she was shot, or if it was true if she was OK. I didn’t know the circumstances. So as a mom, I think my motherly instincts went to, I need to help her,” she told “Good Morning America.”
Vogel said she rode in the ambulance with the girl and ran her into the hospital’s pediatric unit where doctors took over.
Vogel also offered a message of support to the young girl’s mother, telling the New York Post, “The little girl’s going to be able to walk again. She’ll be OK.”
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said during a press conference Saturday the dispute was between two to four people when one person opened fire.
Shea blamed “bad policies” on the gun violence but did not elaborate.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called it “senseless violence,” and said, “The flood of illegal guns into our city must stop.”
According to the latest statistics released by NYPD, shooting incidents are up by about 83% in 2021 compared with this time last year. However, shootings still remain far lower than what the city saw during peaks of violent crime in the 1980s and 1990s.
Magrinat, one of the victims, told the New York Daily News the incident was something she “never thought would happen in Times Square with so many families around.”
She told WNBC she’d likely have the bullet in her leg for the rest of her life, as doctors told her removing it could cause more damage.
Magrinat was with her husband and child when the shooting occurred. “I was literally screaming on the floor, ‘I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die, I have a 2-year-old,’”
Contributing: The Associated Press