Passengers and LIRR employees are painting a much different picture of Sunday night's arrest of an off-duty NYPD officer who pointed his gun at rowdy Rangers fans. You'll recall that Officer David Hendrick, a 16-year veteran, gave a television interview Monday night insisting that he pulled his weapon in self-defense after the hockey fans reacted violently to his attempts to shush them. But court papers obtained by Newsday tell a different story.
Margaret Smith of East Islip was on the Ronkonkoma-bound train with her 8-year-old daughter; she told police that she asked the Rangers fans to stop cursing because her daughter could hear. Smith claims the group immediately complied and behaved themselves, and insists Hendrick actually picked a fight with them long after they settled down. Fare collector Sandra Byers told the cops that one of men in the group "blew him off" and "said something that set off the officer, but it was not profane or disrespectful."
Hendrick, who later told reporters, "I was letting them know that... who's boss," allegedly grabbed one of the hockey fans and put another one in a headlock, according to witnesses. Hendrick then backed up a couple feet and aimed his loaded 9 mm Smith & Wesson at the fans; Smith grabbed her daughter and ran to the opposite end of the train. Everyone began screaming and flashing back to LIRR killer Colin Ferguson.
Conductor Charles Ferris tried to shield his passengers from Hendrick and asked him, "Who are you to pull a gun on my train?" Hendrick reportedly lowered the gun and said: "You don't know what's going on in this car. You are a conductor." Besides being a fan of cable knit Pluto sweaters, Hendrick is also a licensed reverend in Michigan; he later told a reporter, "By God's grace and mercy and love, I was able to put that gun aside." Instead of murder, he faces charges of misdemeanor menacing and felony criminal weapon possession.