by Barbara Nevins Taylor
It’s quiet, even a little sleepy, on West 4th Street on Mondays in July. Tourists usually take the day off. And that was a good thing on July 28. Innocent bystanders didn’t get hurt when a bad guy with a gun started a Wild West shootout in the heart of the West Village. The gun violence left him dead and three law enforcement officers wounded.
The law enforcement officers, two U.S. Marshals and an NYPD detective, part of the fugitive task force,were doing their job. They followed a lead to a head shop on West 4th to arrest suspected child molester Charles Mozdir.
Two years ago, the Coronado Police Department in the San Diego, California area put out a fugitive alert for him. It’s safe to say that Mozdir was the worst kind of creep. He’d been taking care of friends’ four year old son while he was ill, and the little boy told his parents that Mozdir abused him.
He was arrested, released on bond, and then failed to show up in court. Recently, the case gained national attention when the new CNN show, “The Hunt,” with John Walsh, featured Mozdir and showed his photo.
A tipster called and provided the address of the smoke shop on West 4th where Mozdir worked. The Coronado Police alert warned that Mozdir had a handgun registered to him and possibly a second handgun. He’d also made threats to take his own life and kill the father of his victim.
The Fugitive Squad found Mozdir working in the smoke shop. Investigators, as of this posting, are still figuring out what happened. But it’s thought that NYPD detective Mario Munoz entered the store first. He saw Mozdir and went out to get the marshals waiting on the narrow sidewalk. When the three went in, Mozdir opened fire, according to Police Commissioner William Bratton.
Mozdir fired at least four shots from a 32-caliber gun and the law enforcement officers fired back, killing him. But the officers were wounded and are reportedly in stable condition. Mayor Bill de Blasio said their injuries don’t appear life-threatening.
Here we have a case of a bad guy with a gun, wounding three good guys. And it’s yet another reminder that guns do hurt people, good people.
The group Everytown for Gun Safety points out 86 people in the U.S. are killed by gun violence every day. One of the law enforcement officers could easily have been a victim on West 4th Street. NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the bulletproof vest saved this detective.
But two big questions remain: what was a man like Charles Mozdir doing with guns? And when will we have sensible laws that keep guns out of the hands of bad guys?