NEW YORK: Three New York City police officers have been wounded and one assailant killed in separate shootings that underlined the fragility of record success in reducing the Big Apple's once out-of-control gun crime.
Two plainclothes officers were wounded late Thursday by a man they approached after he moved illegally between two moving subway train cars, police said.
The gunman pulled out a pistol and opened fire, then was shot dead.
Earlier in the evening, another policeman was wounded when armed robbers allegedly entered his family car dealership in the Bronx. All the suspects were eventually apprehended.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who frequently touts the drop in murders under his watch and is a prominent critic of loose US gun ownership laws, said all three officers would recover fully.
Bloomberg used the incidents to highlight again what he says is US lawmakers' failure to enact tougher gun laws.
"Tough enforcement of quality of life crimes on the subway the work that these officers were engaged in is a big part of how we've made New York the safest big city in the nation, and how we've dramatically cut crime on the subways and across the city," he said late Thursday.
"We owe it to the good guys to do whatever we can to protect them just as they do whatever they can to protect us.
Instead, Washington is letting the bad guys shoot our police officers, our children, our neighbors and it just has to stop," he said.
Last year, New York recorded its lowest murder rate in 50 years, a positive development at a time when the country was reeling from the horrific December 14 mass shooting of 20 children and six staff members at an elementary school in Connecticut.
There were 414 homicides in 2012, down from 515 in 2011, about a 19 percent decrease. Murders are down 35 percent since Bloomberg took office in 2002.
However, the city of 8.2 million people, which is also the US media capital, is never short of lurid crime stories.
Prior to Thursday's shooting, subway riders' nerves had already been jangled by two highly publicized deaths of men allegedly pushed in front of oncoming trains.