A gunman executed a bartender and shot dead two unarmed auxiliary cops last night in the heart of Greenwich Village before he was killed in a blistering gunfight with plainclothes officers, police said.
More than 50 shots were fired during the bloodbath that erupted at 9:26 p.m. when the gunman walked into De Marco’s Pizzeria and Restaurant on W.Houston St. at MacDougal St., police said.
Wearing a fake beard and a gray sweat suit, the gunman shot the bartender 15 times in the back after the bartender gave him a menu and turned away, witnesses told cops.
“He just came in and opened fire,” said a 26-year-old waiter from another restaurant. “People here are saying it was some kind of vengeance thing.”
Without a word, the gunman then ripped off the fake beard and ran out of the restaurant onto MacDougal St. and over to Bleecker St., which was crowded with tourists and pedestrians near New York University.
“That’s when all the O.K. Corral stuff happened,” the waiter said.
Police said the gunman fled to Sullivan St. where he cut down the two auxiliary cops – Nicholas Pekearo, 28, and Eugene Marshalik, a 19-year-old NYU student who graduated recently from Manhattan’s elite Stuyvesant High School.
“He literally crossed the street with his gun out to kill them in cold blood,” Mayor Bloomberg said early today.
“Tonight was a horrible night for the New York Police Department and for our city.”
Flight attendant Alan McDonald, 39, of Queens, said he and several friends were only feet away when the madman confronted Pekearo and Marshalik, who had been following him from the pizzeria.
“We thought it was a street fight at first,” McDonald said.
The two auxiliary officers wrestled with the gunman, David Garvin, 31, over a black shoulder bag that police sources said was packed with about 100 rounds of ammunition and a .380-caliber Russian handgun.
Both auxiliary cops continued after Garvin even after he started firing, McDonald said.
“They tried to use cars as cover … but there were rapid shots. I was paralyzed,” he said. “It was like something you see on TV.”
As Garvin began to run again, about six plainclothes cops intercepted him between Sullivan and MacDougal Sts. and told him to drop his 9-mm. handgun, police said.
The gunman refused and opened fire as terrified pedestrians ran into restaurants, shops and doorways for cover. When it was over Garvin lay dead in the street.
“He was on the ground, facedown. … He was full of bullet holes and blood was coming out,” said witness Jess Sears, 48.
“It must have been a whole magazine, 15 or 20 shots. Within two minutes there were hundreds of cops.”
The last time an auxiliary cop was killed in the line of duty was 14 years ago, when Milton Clarke, a 47-year-old father of five, was shot dead in the Bronx. Only seven auxiliary cops have been killed in the history of the NYPD, officials said early today.
At the 6th Precinct stationhouse, where Pekearo and Marshalik were assigned, one cop said, “You would see them and they would cheer you up. Both were very helpful. The community loved them and they loved the community.
“It’s a great loss for the department. It’s probably the worst day for the precinct since 9/11.”
Auxiliary police are unpaid civilian volunteers who aim to deter crime by acting as the “eyes and ears” of the NYPD and providing a uniformed presence.
About 4,600 of them patrol on foot and in marked cars and wear virtually the same uniform as regular officers. Auxiliary cops are equipped with radios, flashlights, handcuffs and nightsticks – but are not allowed to carry guns.
Yesterday’s bloodshed marked the fourth time in less than a week that city cops have been forced to fire their guns on duty. It also came just a day after a plainclothes cop was shot in Harlem and a uniformed officer was stabbed in Brooklyn.
Construction worker Meir Roth, 27, was still at the Greenwich Village crime scene a couple of hours after the shootings, trying to get his car, which he had abandoned with the motor running.
“I was at a red light at Bleecker and MacDougal when I heard it,” he said. “It started and stopped like three times. I saw people running all over the place. For a couple of seconds I didn’t know whether to duck down or run like hell.”
Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly rushed to St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan, where witnesses recounted seeing paramedics bring in four wounded men. Police said officers from the sixth precinct were also brought to the hospital with minor injuries and are listed in stable condition.
“There was a person on the floor dressed in blue and they were working on him, [pounding] on his chest trying to revive him,” said Joe Giaimo, 59, who lives in the area.
“Another cop was pounding on the [patrol] car, going crazy. He really felt helpless and mad. I don’t know why he was going nuts. Maybe that was a friend or his partner.”
De Marco’s pizzeria was opened in 2004 by Margaret Miles, the daughter of Dominic De Marco, the owner of the famed Di Fara Pizza restaurant in Brooklyn.
Witnesses said the slain bartender, Romero Morales, 26, a Mexican immigrant living in Queens with his wife, appeared to recognize Garvin, who cops said lived in the Bronx but hung out in the Village with his girlfriend. Morales’ hands began to shake when the gunman walked inside, witnesses said.