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Wills pledges to help suspect turn himself in

TimesLedger Newspapers

City Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) last week called on suspected cop-shooter John Thomas to peacefully turn himself over to the authorities for his own safety and the good of the community.

Wills said that ever since NYPD Sgt. Craig Bier was shot in the leg while chasing a suspect in South Jamaica the night of Aug. 8, tensions between police and community members have been running high.

“The recent gun violence is sending shock waves throughout the community, and I believe this is the first step for this community to become an active and responsible partner in bringing our community to a peaceful state,” Wills said. “There has been tension between the black community and the police for a long time and I am actively working on bringing us together. Today is one example.”

The councilman offered his assistance in helping to facilitate Thomas’ peaceful and safe surrender and said police and community members had a duty to each other to work together on matters such as this.

“The police alone cannot solve this matter, so we are asking the community, family members, civic leaders and the clergy to muster all the resources we can to make sure that Mr. John Thomas has a safe surrender to law enforcement authorities,” he said.

Bier, a member of the borough’s anti-gang unit, was driving eastbound on 107th Avenue near Union Hall Street last month when he and his partner attempted to stop a man riding a bicycle, police said.

Bier followed the suspect on foot and the chase soon turned into a shoot-out, with the suspect firing four shots — hitting the sergeant in both legs — and Bier getting off six shots, according to the NYPD.

Bier was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he was treated for his wounds. The sergeant was released in good spirits shortly thereafter, and the police identified 24-year-old Thomas as the shooting suspect.

The statewide nonprofit Crimestoppers, the NYPD and the Policemen’s Benevolent Association all chipped in to offer a $22,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the alleged cop shooter.

The police said Bier was the 10th officer to be shot in the line of duty this year, and the incident came during a summer when gun violence has been a hot topic.

Shootings in the Queens South Patrol Borough have seen a sharp increase this year compelling elected officials and community leaders throughout the city to call for stricter gun laws, effective and fair policing and community engagement in order to curtail the violence.

“It is important to keep in mind this community is also upset over the shooting of Officer Bier,” Wills said, “and collectively want the violence to end.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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