The Fourth of July was a day of tragedy for one Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) police officer. Officer John Barnett, 45, was stabbed in the eye on the sidewalk at a Queens Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station Wednesday morning.
In turn, Barnett shot and killed the attacker. The incident took place under the tracks at the Sutphin Boulevard and Archer Avenue station in Jamaica. The officer, a 13-year veteran, and the suspect were taken to Jamaica Hospital. The suspect was pronounced dead on arrival.
“I spoke with officer Barnett prior to him going in to surgery and thanked him on behalf of all New Yorkers for his courage,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “Today we are reminded once again of the bravery and sacrifice of our men and women in law enforcement, and the many dangers that accompany the important job of keeping our state’s residents safe. We applaud officer Barnett’s bravery and pray for a full recovery.”
Officials said Barnett shot the suspect three times—once in his jaw, once in his chest, and once in his hip. The suspect has been identified as 46-year-old Edgar Owens from the Bronx, a man the NYPD said had a history of assaulting law enforcement officers without provocation.
According to the NYPD, in 2006, Owens walked into the 26th Precinct stationhouse and punched a police officer in the face. In 2007, he walked into the 103rd Precinct and said he wanted to get arrested, and would punch someone if necessary. He also had a history of additional arrests.
MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said in a statement what Barnett did was in accordance with the expectations of MTA police officers in similar situations. The agency said Barnett was stabbed “without warning or provocation.”
“In a split second, confronted with a violent individual who posed a threat to everyone around him, he took action without regard to his personal safety,” said Lhota. “We are all in awe of his bravery””
According to the MTA, after Owens stabbed Barnett in the eye, Barnett stepped back, drew his gun and yelled at Owens several times to drop his knife, before he shot him.
It is not known whether Barnett will lose vision in his left eye. He was conscious before surgery and spoke with his family members, Lhota, and Cuomo via cellphone.
Barnett had not previously fired a weapon in the line of duty, despite being a member of the Navy Reserves completing tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has a 12-year-old son and lives in Suffolk County.
Train service was not disrupted following the incident, but passengers had to use elevators to get to the platforms, because the stairs and escalators were blocked for some time during the investigation.
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