Police Still Investigating Possible Link to 2012’s First Murder
By Collen Long
Associated Press and
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
JAY STREET — The 21-year-old purported gang member charged with attempting to kill a cop is due back in a Brooklyn courtroom today. And as of Friday, a police spokesman said that they are still investigating if the same man is responsible for the city’s first murder of 2012.
Luis “Baby” Ortiz, who shouted out after his arrest that he loves the Latin Kings gang, was arraigned Thursday in Brooklyn Criminal Court and charged with attempted murder.
Ortiz is accused of shooting Brooklyn police officer Kevin Brennan at point-blank range in the head. He pled not guilty in a courtroom full of police officers.
Ortiz barely spoke at his arraignment in front of Brooklyn Criminal Court Judge Charles Troia. In court, prosecutor Lewis Lieberman called the shooting “an evil act by an evil person.” Ortiz was held without bail.
“This was an assassination attempt by this defendant against Officer Brennan, who showed Herculean strength in not firing his weapon,” Lieberman said.
Ortiz was suspected of firing two rounds at someone on Tuesday night, which brought the police to the scene in the East Williamsburg/Bushwick neighborhood, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the following day. Ortiz then fled, and Brennan pursued him around the back of the building at the Bushwick Houses public housing development, where the two squeezed through an open emergency exit before it shut behind them.
The two other officers who responded with Brennan were trapped outside the building at 370 Bushwick Ave., located just two blocks away from the popular McKibbon Street residential buildings that are home to many of Brooklyn’s young hipster population.
Surveillance video showed Brennan in a headlock, then being shot in an alcove and lying unmoving while the suspect flees, Kelly said.
Ortiz was caught near the scene about two hours later at an apartment where his uncle was staying, police said. A revolver was found outside, which prosecutors claim belonged to Ortiz.
Lieberman said ballistics tests showed that the bullet that struck Brennan matches a gun found outside the apartment where Ortiz was apprehended.
But defense attorney Eric Poulos said there’s no proof his client fired the gun. The criminal complaint, the official document charging Ortiz with a crime, states only that the two were struggling on the ground, and a gun went off. He criticized the prosecution’s statements as overly theatrical.
“This isn’t an effort to do an arraignment, this is a political speech” he said.
Scores of officers filled the courtroom on Schermerhorn Street, which fell silent as Ortiz was walked out. He was told at least twice to face the judge, and his family wasn’t present.
Poulos said police beat up his client twice, at the scene and at the precinct, and that he had the bruises and chipped tooth to prove it. Ortiz has a lengthy record with at least 14 arrests and had been wanted for questioning in New York City’s first killing of 2012, on New Year’s Day.
That shooting occurred around 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 1, in front of a supermarket not far from Tuesday night’s shooting. A 34-year-old drug addict, Shannon “Shan the Man” McKinney, was shot in the head in a still-unsolved killing. Kelly did not say whether Ortiz was the suspect, but a revolver was believed to have been used.
Kelly said Ortiz also had 14 prior arrests. He also said that Brennan is expected to recover.
After the gunman fled, the two officers pried open the emergency door, saw Brennan and called for an ambulance. There was no time to send the officer to the operation room, so doctors pulled the bullet from his head in the emergency room.
“He is one lucky young man,” Kelly said last week, as he held up a jar containing the bloody bullet during a news conference at Bellevue Hospital.