FDNY EMTs Brendon Hernandez and Jean Altidor were praised by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on June 10, after EMT Hernandez wrestled a gun away from a patient who shot a police officer outside Harlem Hospital and the pair quickly aided the injured officer.
“I was scared for our safety, for people passing by and the police officers,” EMT Hernandez said. “I just wanted to get the gun out of there and not make anything worse.”
The EMTs were called to 116th Street and Lexington Avenue at around 5 a.m. to evaluate a 42-year-old man who was violent and threatening to attack people. Police later identified the patient as Guiteau Idore.
Police arrested Mr. Idore, and EMTs Hernandez and Altidor transported him to Harlem Hospital for psychiatric evaluation. One police officer came with the EMS members in the ambulance and the other escorted them in a police vehicle.
When they arrived at the hospital, the officer in the ambulance began to remove Mr. Idore when he tried to flee.
Both police officers, identified by the NYPD as Officers John Chiodi and Fausto Gomez, grabbed Mr. Idore and were on either side of him to walk up the ramp into the hospital.
“I just kept telling him, ‘relax, relax,’” EMT Altidor said, who remained in front of the officers and patient.
He calmed down for a bit, according to the EMTs, but then began to struggle again.
Although he was handcuffed behind his back, he was able to remove one of the police officers’ guns and fired the weapon twice, according to police. He struck Officer Gomez one time on his left foot.
EMT Hernandez was turning off the ambulance and removing the key when he looked in the vehicle’s rear view mirror and police struggling with the man. He said he then heard popping sounds.
“I ran over, froze for a second, then just grabbed the gun,” EMT Hernandez said. Then, without any firearm experience, he figured out how to clear the gun’s chamber and emptied the magazine.
EMT Altidor said he saw the police officer was injured and immediately tended to his wounds. EMT Hernandez then turned over the weapon to police and grabbed a stretcher to aid the officer.
Although Commissioner Kelly said the EMTs “did an outstanding job.” The partners were not thinking about their heroism after the event. Their overnight shift was over and EMT Hernandez said: “I just want to go home.”