An off-duty cop returning home from a shift was shot twice after he got caught in the middle of a gun fight in the Bronx early this morning. Officer Nelson Vergara, 36, was almost at his home when a 22-year-old man with a group started cursing at him, and threw a bottle at him around 4:45 a.m. on Phelan Place near West Tremont Avenue in University Heights. Vergara identified himself as NYPD and walked over to him, when a green Honda pulled up; the driver started firing at the bottle-thrower. “There was obviously some sort of issue between the shooter and at least one person in that group,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a press conference. “Vergara was caught in the middle.”

Vergara, a 12-year veteran of the force, was hit twice—once in the left shoulder and once in the right shin. He was able to get off 11 rounds himself, hitting the driver of the car, who fled the scene. Despite being wounded, Vergara was able to chase the bottle-thrower and arrest him. Vergara was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition; three of the suspects were wounded, including the bottle-tosser, who was shot in the hip during the melee. The driver who escaped was taken by two pals to Bronx Lebanon Hospital, where all three were arrested. Cops recovered a gun, and five other men involved with the confrontation are being questioned by police.

“We saw eternal vigilance in action again this morning, when an off-duty officer acted to clean up crime in his neighborhood and was fired on for his efforts,” Mayor Bloomberg said at the press conference. Neighbors described Vergara—a married father of two daughters who did two tours of duty with the U.S. Marines in Iraq—as a quiet family man: “He’s just an everyday person. If you saw him in plain clothes, you wouldn’t think he’s a cop when you talk to him. He’s a cool guy. He’s not this cop who harasses people,” Keith Brown told the Post. “That’s a real cop right there. That’s his training. That’s what he’s going to do. Some people would try to turn their back and run.”