Bronx shootout wounds two NYPD, reminds of dangers to police officers

cnn tonight dossi cop father _00002020
cnn tonight dossi cop father _00002020


    Don Lemon speaks with the father of a shot NYPD officer


Don Lemon speaks with the father of a shot NYPD officer 05:35

Story highlights

  • Two men arrested, another in custody, in connection with shootings of two officers
  • Wounded officers are Andrew Dossi and Aliro Pellerano, according to police
  • Tensions have been high since two NYPD officers were murdered in their squad car last month

(CNN)When bullets hit two off-duty NYPD officers in the Bronx on Monday, they also struck a nerve in the public psyche. The ambush style murder of two of their colleagues last month made it easy to assume the worst.

Joe Dossi did. His son, Officer Andrew Dossi, 30, was shot twice.
When he heard about his son, Dossi thought, "This really can't be happening," he told CNN's Don Lemon.
    But Officer Dossi is already doing better, as he recovers in a hospital, the father said. He's cracking jokes and trying to eat.
    "Luckily it missed his spine, and it didn't strike any vital organs," Dossi said.
    The other officer, Aliro Pellerano, 38, is in stable condition with gunshot wounds to the chest and arm.
    Anti-police sentiments
    The shootings have gotten heightened attention given when they happened -- at a time of large-scale anti-police protests after a grand jury decided not to indict a white New York police officer in the death of Eric Garner, an African-American man.
    Alleged Bronx shooter Jason Polanco had posted anti-police and anti-government messages on social media, police said.
    He allegedly fired at the officers while trying to get away after committing armed robbery -- knocking off a grocery store with an accomplice.
    Police haven't said if his messages are tied to the Garner protests. But experts in the law enforcement community have expressed concerns that such sentiment will encourage violence against police.
    That's what happened, they say, when Ismaaiyl Brinsley fatally ambushed NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu last month as they sat in their patrol car.
    "When the rhetoric turns anti-police, the police are concerned ... it's going to increase the already existent lack of respect in certain segments of the society," said CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director.
    Heightened awareness
    In recent weeks, incidents endangering officers have stood out, even if they had little or nothing to do with anti-police protests.
    Here are a few recent ones:
    -- Baltimore: armed visitor
    A man armed with a .22 caliber pistol walked into a Baltimore police station on the orders of the Black Guerilla Family street gang, the Baltimore police said.
    Jason Armstrong, 29, was there to test security, he told officers. He smelled of pot, police said, and was carrying that and cocaine with him.
    Police said they felt fortunate that it was only a test and not an attack.
    They made no connection between the strange visit and recent anti-police sentiments.
    -- Los Angeles: squad car targeted
    Last month, two officers driving through southern Los Angeles were fired upon. The officers returned fire, but no one was injured.
    Police arrested a suspect and recovered two weapons. About 100 officers went on a manhunt to search for a second suspect.
    Investigators said there was "nothing to indicate that there's a nexus" between the shooting and recent nationwide protests against police brutality that have fueled animosity toward police.
    -- Florida: deputies targeted
    Around the same time in Florida, someone fired three bullets at two deputies with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office as they sat in their patrol car.
    "Both deputies reported hearing the whizzing sound of each projectile as they flew by," the sheriff's office said. "Deputies did not see the suspect or the vehicle from which the shots were fired."
    There was no mention of a possible motive.
    -- Police association: ambushes up
    The killing of officers was already up for last year -- even before recent anti-police threats that came in the wake of protests sparked by the deaths of unarmed African-Americans Mike Brown and Garner.
    Distraught over danger
    The death of Eric Garner on Staten Island troubled Joe Dossi.
    "Maybe some things have got to be changed," he said. "Selling cigarettes doesn't exactly mean the guy is dangerous."
    But he was distraught over the mortal danger police officers like his son often face while protecting the public day after day.
    He and his wife decided not to tell Officer Dossi's 8-year-old daughter that he had been shot. Too traumatizing, Dossi said.
    "We made up a story that he fell when he got hurt, and he's OK," he said.