RIDGE, N.Y. (PIX11) – A 3-year-old girl was seriously injured when she was shot by a man who then took his own life on Tuesday, the Suffolk County Police Department said Wednesday.
The police commissioner said that quick action by his officers saved the toddler’s life.
The shooting happened around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Police said they were investigating a homicide that occurred on June 19 and were talking to a friend of the suspect, 38-year-old Gary Jones, at a home in Ridge.
The friend told officers that Jones was in the home, police said. Officers then directed the friend and the children in the house to go outside, according to authorities.
Police said that’s when Jones appeared with a handgun inside the home. He fired several shots at the officers, police said, with one bullet going through a wall and striking the girl in the next apartment.
The girl’s father, James Toney, gave more details during an interview in their apartment’s living room on Wednesday morning.
“We heard three shots,” he said. “I thought it was fireworks.”
He said that one of the bullets went through the wall and a cushion on the couch, where his daughter was jumping at the time, eventually striking the floor.
“I saw dust kick up,” Toney said. “I didn’t know what to do until I saw my daughter [bleeding] and [I] thought, ‘I’ve got to get out of here.'”
He ran with the girl in his arms to the lawn in front of the apartment. Officers were there as part of the search and standoff with the homicide suspect.
“They rushed her away in a marked car,” Toney said.
The whole process was captured on bodycam video released by the Suffolk County police commissioner on Wednesday afternoon.
“P.O. Hernandez was driving, and Detective Cabrera did work to control her bleeding,” said Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison.
He specifically singled out the work of Officer Christian Hernandez and Detective Luis Cabrera of the Homicide Unit. They got the girl to the emergency department at the closest hospital, where she was treated for injuries to her liver, according to police. They said she’s expected to recover.
“I can’t imagine going through that same situation,” Harrison said. “The trauma that must have been put on the family, but I can say thank God for the men and women of this department.”
The girl’s father echoed that sentiment.
“There was already cops out here, like they teleported here,” Toney said about the officers’ quick reaction. “I was thankful.”
After the toddler was transported, officers surrounded the home with hostage negotiators before a robot was sent in, police said. Jones was discovered dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to authorities.
Harrison said that officers recovered a 9 caliber gun at the scene and that it was the same type of weapon used in the homicide to which Jones was tied.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). It is a free, 24/7 service that offers support, information, and local resources. You can also click here for additional hotlines within your state.