Police have formally charged the Bronx teen who they say shot an officer during a melee at a party early Saturday morning. Christopher Rice, 19, is accused of shooting it out with cops who pursued him as they tried to break up a large fight involving people armed with guns, bats, and knives. Officer Sherrod Stuart and a partner were wearing plainclothes, responding to calls about a street fight outside Sanctuary Party Hall on Third Avenue in Mott Haven when the NYPD says they encountered Rice. Stuart was shot in the foot in the exchange of fire, and cops say Stuart shot Rice four times as he returned fire.
The fight reportedly involved dozens of people, and police say it left five others injured with stab wounds. Officers found four guns at the scene, including a .380 handgun that they say was Rice's.
Rice was taken to Lincoln Hospital and the Times reported on Saturday that he was in critical condition. Officer Stuart was also taken to Lincoln Hospital, and police listed him in stable condition Saturday morning. A police spokesman said this morning that he did not have further information on the condition of Rice or the stabbing victims.
A mechanism exists for criminal defendants to be arraigned from their hospital beds via video-conference. A Bronx District Attorney's Office spokeswoman said that Lincoln Hospital arraignments take place on Thursdays, but Rice's has not yet been scheduled.
Stuart, 25, is the son of an NYPD detective and active duty Army soldier, and the gunfight that left him injured occurred on his fourth anniversary on the job.
Rice left Bronx criminal court on Friday, hours before the party, having been arrested for alleged fare evasion, and had a previous charge conditionally dismissed. Police highlighted several arrests they say are on Rice's record, including one for assaulting an officer and one for interfering with police work and resisting arrest. Rice pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in those cases, but missed a sentencing hearing in October, leading a judge to issue a bench warrant for his arrest, according to the spokeswoman for prosecutors.
A judge released Rice without bail on the fare-beating charge.
Rice's older brother defended him to the Daily News, saying he is incapable of what he's accused of.
"When they said my brother shot a cop, I couldn’t believe it. I know that he would never shoot a cop. I just know he wouldn’t do it," Tyree Losey said. "He helped elderly ladies with their bags across the street. Everybody has a criminal history. I have a criminal history, but my brother would never."
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters that the event hall did not have a license for the type of party being held there on Friday night. A neighbor told the New York Times that the place is a problem, saying, "You always hear fights there. It’s kind of like an illegal hot spot."
Police say Rice lives near the party hall in the Mitchel Houses development. He is facing assaulting an officer, menacing, and gun possession charges.