New York officer killed in gunfight


NEW YORK -- A police officer trying to stop a burglary in a neighbor's home was fatally wounded in a gunbattle in the Bronx early yesterday, but he continued to return fire and wounded two suspects who were captured by arriving officers as they tried to stumble away bleeding, the police said.

The slain officer, Daniel Enchautegui, 28, was the second city police officer to die in the line of duty this year, and, as with the first, less than two weeks ago, the police said he stayed in the fight despite a mortal wound near his heart, to aid in the capture of his assailants.

The suspects - one identified as a 48-year-old burglar with three convictions and the other as Lillo Brancato Jr., 34, of Yonkers, an actor who has appeared in The Sopranos and with Robert De Niro in A Bronx Tale and other films - were felled by multiple wounds in a gunfight that shattered the peace of a quiet residential street before dawn.

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg went to the scene of the shooting, to the hospital where the officer died and to the home of the officer's parents.

As the Police Department mourned, Kelly and Bloomberg spoke once more of the sacrifices made by police officers who put their lives on the line.

"In the space of two weeks, we've twice witnessed the almost incomprehensible courage of police officers who, although mortally wounded, stayed in the fight to help bring their killers to justice," Kelly said at a news conference at Jacobi Medical Center. He referred to Officer Dillon Stewart, who, though shot in the heart by a suspect in Brooklyn on Nov. 28, drove in pursuit of his assailant for blocks before collapsing in a street.

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