New Orleans Police officer shot, in intensive care

New Orleans Police officer shot, in intensive care
CrimeTracker

POSTED: Saturday, February 23, 2013 - 8:00pm

UPDATED: Saturday, February 23, 2013 - 8:04pm

A New Orleans Police officer is hospitalized in intensive care this afternoon after being shot multiple times at a store in Bywater this morning.

Preliminary information indicates that Officer John Passaro, a 3 year NOPD veteran, was the first of several police units to respond to a complaint of an armed robbery in the 1100-block of Poland Avenue shortly after 7am. At first, it was not clear whether a person or a business was being robbed. Officer Passaro entered the store, observed no cashiers or other employees, and then walked toward the manager’s office. He was unaware that a gunman had forced three employees into the office at gunpoint and ordered them to empty two safes for him.

The door to the office was closed, so Officer Passaro stood outside of it and announced himself as a police officer, which is when the gunman opened the office door and immediately opened fire. It’s believed three shots were fired, two bullets striking Officer Passaro. At that point, the gunman fled the scene.

Seconds later, a former Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy, who happened to be a customer in the store with his wife, picked up Officer Passaro’s police radio, and broadcast “Officer down”, and gave the store’s location. Within 2 minutes, multiple officers already dispatched to the original call arrived at the scene, and Officer Passaro was transported to a nearby hospital.

A perimeter was quickly set up around the area. SWAT team officers, the Canine Unit as well as State Troopers and Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office helicopters searched the area for many hours for the suspect, but at this time, no arrests have been made.

The suspect is described as a light-complexioned, African-American male in his mid to late 30’s. He is approximately 5’7” with a slim build. At the time of the robbery, he was wearing a grey hoodie, blue jeans, a blue or blue and white bandana covering the bottom part of his face and sunglasses.

If you know anything about this shooting, please call 9-1-1, as this suspect is considered armed and dangerous. You can also call CrimeStoppers at (504)822-1111. You will not have to give your name, and if the information you provide to CrimeStoppers leads to the arrest and eventual indictment of the suspect, you may be eligible for a $10,000 reward. A photo of the suspect will be released as soon as it's available.

“This was an incredibly tragic event that forces both police officers as well as the public to recognize that every single day, our officers are putting their lives on the line”, said Superintendent Ronal Serpas. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Passaro and his family.”

“Our detectives are making great strides in this investigation in terms of evidence as well as interviews. And the community has come forward to help us make real progress.”

“I am especially grateful to our NOPD team, the EMS and medical professionals at Medical Center of Louisiana, the Louisiana State Police, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and CrimeStoppers”, Serpas said.

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