Suspect in ambush shootings of NYC police officers indicted on 52 counts

(NEW YORK) — A man suspected of ambushing New York City police officers during a shooting rampage last month was arraigned Wednesday on a 52-count indictment that includes multiple charges of attempted murder.

The suspect, 45-year-old Robert Williams, was arraigned in Bronx Supreme Court on 11 counts of first-degree attempted murder, 12 counts of second-degree attempted murder, 11 counts of aggravated assault upon a police officer, 12 counts of first-degree attempted assault, two counts of second-degree assault and four counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
 
“Fortunately, this mission to massacre police officers failed,” Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said at a news conference following William’s arraignment, calling the targeting of police officers “an abomination.”

As a courtroom full of police watched, Williams pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was ordered held in jail without bail.

Investigators allege Williams launched the shooting rampage on the night of Feb. 8 when he approached two police officers, Paul Stroffolino and Brian Harlon, as they sat in a marked police van in the Bronx borough of New York, and engaged them in conversation. Williams, according to investigators, suddenly pulled out a gun and opened fire, leaving Stroffolino with injuries to his neck and chin before the officers could drive out of harm’s way, authorities said.

A massive manhunt was immediately launched for the suspected gunman, who fled the scene on foot.

About 12 hours later, Williams showed up at the 41st Precinct stationhouse in the Bronx and allegedly opened fire on eight police officers and a civilian employee in the lobby and in an adjacent side room of the station. Lt. Jose Gautreaux was shot in the right arm, but all the other shots missed, authorities said.

Williams allegedly ran out of bullets and attempted to walk toward an exit, surveillance video of the stationhouse shows. When officers returned fire, Williams is seen in the video dropping to the ground and tossing his gun at the officers, who pounced on him and placed him under arrest.

“To enter a police station house and fire a gun is unprecedented in our city and in our lifetime,” Clark said.

New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea condemned the shooting rampage and expressed confidence in Clark’s office to “assure that justice is done.”

“This man allegedly attempted not once but twice to assassinate police officers,” Shea said in a statement.

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