06/24/2012 04:30 AM.
An off-duty NYPD officer who served two combat tours in Iraq as a Marine was shot and wounded near his home in Morris Heights when a dispute erupted into a chaotic gun battle, police and the Mayor’s Office said.
Police Officer Nelson Vergara, 36, a married father of two and a 12-year veteran of the NYPD, was shot twice on Phelan Place at about 4:30 a.m. while going home after a shift at work, officials said.
Vergara was parking his car near his family’s home, officials stated, when he became embroiled in an argument with a group of men drinking nearby.
As the dispute escalated, one of the men —17-year-old Adonis Almonte — allegedly threw a bottle at Vergara, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Almonte’s family said.
“The glass bottle shattered when it hit the ground,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told the Daily News and New York Post. “Fragments from the bottle struck the officer.”
Vergara told the group he was a cop and pulled his service revolver.
That’s when a green Honda pulled in front of Vergara, Bloomberg said. The driver, whom the Post identified as 21-year-old Jose Baez, allegedly stepped from the car and shot Almonte.