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Police Officer Saved After Bullet Strikes Gunbelt During Lower Manhattan Shootout

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A police officer is lucky to be alive Monday after a running gun battle in lower Manhattan.

It all went down at about 1:44 a.m., police say.

That’s when officers Thomas Richards and Thomas Dunne stepped out of their police van to confront Luis Martinez at 47 Columbia Street.

Police spokesman Paul Browne says Martinez, 25, muttered something and then opened fire at the officers.

One of the bullets hit a spare clip on Richards’ gunbelt.
  
“We’re lucky again,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. “If it had been up an inch it would’ve been right into the officer’s body.”

Richards returned fire, and then officers chased Martinez as he ran down Rivington Street. The chase lasted several blocks until, at Baruch Drive, police say Martinez stopped and again fired away at the two cops.

Police returned fire, Browne said, hitting Martinez in the right leg. Martinez ran to his apartment on Baruch Drive, where he was arrested by Emergency Services Unit officers. Police were able to follow the blood trail to his apartment.

Police say they found the gun Martinez used in the trash compactor. Martinez was taken to Bellevue Hospital where he is in stable condition.
  
Officers Richards and Dunne were examined at Beth Israel Hospital and released.

It’s the fourth shooting of an NYPD officer in two months.

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