Man accused of shooting two cops is an illegal immigrant, NYPD confirms

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The Empire State Building in New York City (Image by Peter Gülden from Pixabay)

By Jason Hopkins
Daily Caller News Foundation

A man who allegedly shot two New York Police Department (NYPD) officers is living in the United States unlawfully, local law enforcement officials confirmed.

Bernardo Raul Castro Mata, a 19-year-old man from Venezuela, is accused of shooting two NYPD officers during a foot chase in the early morning hours of Monday, New York City officials announced. Officials also confirmed that Mata entered the U.S. illegally last year through Eagle Pass, Texas.

“What we know is that the shooter here, he entered the country from Venezuela. He entered through Eagle Pass, Texas, back in July of 2023,” Chief of Detectives, Joe Kenny, said during a press conference on Monday.

“We know that he entered the country illegally. The patterns that we’re looking at currently in Queens that he’s involved with [phone snatches] and instances where a woman was attacked, her credit card was stolen, and eventually used in a Queens smoke shop,” Kenny continued.

The shooting took place early Sunday in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens, according to the authorities. Two officers attempted to pull over a suspect on a moped driving the wrong way when the suspect, alleged to be Mata, fled on foot.

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During the foot chase, the suspect fired multiple rounds at the officers, who then returned fire.

“One officer was shot in the front of his bullet resistant vest. The other officer was shot in his leg,” Police Commissioner Edward Caban said.

Both officers were taken to Elmhurst Hospital and said to be in “stable condition.” Mata was shot in the right ankle and taken to New York Presbyterian Queens by medical personnel.

Kenny also confirmed that Mata was living in the Landing Family Shelter, a former Courtyard Marriott Hotel that is currently being used to house migrants in the city. Police also noted that the gun Mata allegedly used was not legally owned.

Police suspect Mata is involved in a network of other motorized bike riders who are traversing the city and committing other crimes, such as shootings and robberies.

“Just to paint you a quick picture of how many of these crimes are being committed. January 1st to June 1st, 2022, zero robbery patterns involving motorized scooters or motorcycles,” Kenny said.

“The same time period, 2023, 20 robbery patterns. Year to date so far this year, January 1st to June 1st, 2024, we have over 80 robbery patterns citywide involving incidents where the perpetrators are riding motorized scooters or motorcycles,” he explained.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not immediately confirm Mata’s legal status to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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