Two men are dead following a police-involved shooting outside an East Village hookah lounge early Thursday morning.
According to NYPD Chief of the Department Terence Monahan, police in the 9th Precinct were patrolling Tompkins Square Park at 3:30 a.m. when they heard gunshots near Avenue A and East 7th Street.
"The two officers immediately exited the park and tactically approached the location, where they observed a man shooting at another man," he said. "The two officers engaged the armed suspect and gave numerous commands for him to get on the ground. It was then, the officers fired three times at the man, striking him."
The suspect was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The other man also died, and Monahan emphasized, "He was NOT shot by our officers."
Police said the two men were been involved in an argument at Hayaty, a hookah lounge on Avenue A, and the dispute continued onto the sidewalk. Police found a .22 caliber handgun under the man shot by officers and another .22 caliber handgun near the second man, they said.
Eric Fuller, a resident of Avenue A and 7th Street, said the gunshots woke him up in the middle of the night.
“I heard a couple pops, I could’ve sworn it was fireworks,” he told Gothamist. “It was really frantic. I heard fighting, and one of the guy’s buddies was screaming to let him into the car car [and take him to the hospital] because the ambulance hadn’t arrived yet.”
“I figured it was another drunk bar fight because that happens all the time on this block, but I guess this time someone had a gun and fired it,” he added.
The blocks surrounding the hookah bar remained cordoned off by police officers on Thursday morning.
The officers, who were uninjured, were taken to the hospital for evaluation. "The body-worn cameras of the officers were activated and are being reviewed," Monahan said.