NYC firefighter shot in leg, suspect killed after standoff

Investigators work near the scene of a standoff, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in the Staten Island borough of New York. Garland Tyree, a high-ranking member of the Bloods street gang who was to be arrested on parole violations when he shot a firefighter responding to a call of smoke coming from his girlfriend's home, died Friday in a gunfight with police after a six-hour standoff, two police officials said. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK (AP) — Shortly before emerging from an apartment armed with a fully automatic AK-47, Garland Tyree tenderly told his mother over the phone Friday he had agreed to surrender after a six-hour standoff with police.

“I’m coming out, Mama,” he said, according to the New York Police Department’s top hostage negotiator, Lt. Jack Cambria.

Instead Tyree, a wanted high-ranking member of the Bloods street gang who hours earlier shot and injured a firefighter responding to heavy smoke in the house he had barricaded himself in, fired his weapon at police and was shot and killed in return.

“It should go without saying, but it cannot go without saying, that this is not the way we want these kinds of negotiations to end,” Police Commissioner William Bratton told reporters at a news conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Tyree, 38, was to be arrested early Friday morning at his girlfriend’s apartment in a two-family Staten Island home by four U.S. Marshals and four New York City detectives for violating parole. But he refused to open the door, officials said, and then ignited a commercial-grade smoke bomb, prompting the officers to call the Fire Department of New York.

When FDNY Lt. James S. Hayes arrived at the scene, he spoke with Tyree through the door and entered the apartment before he was shot in the left calf and buttocks, officials said. Hayes, a 31-year veteran of the department, is in stable condition at a hospital and is the first city firefighter to be shot responding to a scene since 1994.

A member of the task force fired once at the home as he dragged Hayes to safety, officials said.

An emergency response team was then called and the house was surrounded as hostage negotiators got to work, getting his sister and girlfriend on the phone — and even flying Tyree’s mother in a police helicopter from Delaware to Staten Island, authorities said. Three times before the deadly confrontation, Tyree fired his weapon and officers didn’t return fire, Bratton said.

When he did emerge, wearing a bulletproof vest, his shots struck police cars and a neighbor’s house, officials said.

“The NYPD showed extraordinary restraint and care,” de Blasio said. “The NYPD really went the extra mile here.”

For Tyree, it was a violent end to a violent life, foreseen in a Facebook post at about 7 a.m., after Hayes was shot, when he wrote, “Today I die,” according to Robert Boyce, the police department’s chief of detectives.

Tyree was convicted in 1995 of weapons charges connected to a murder and subsequently was convicted of two slashing assaults while in custody — one with a razor while aboard a correctional bus and another so vicious the other inmate received 60 stitches.

In total, he was arrested 18 times and convicted in 2004 on federal gun charges for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, officials said.

His current defense attorney declined to comment. But in court papers, his lawyers portrayed him as a deeply troubled man struggling with mental health problems, whose mother was addicted to crack, forcing him to be placed in group homes and foster care.

Susan G. Kellman, who represented him on the 2004 gun case, described him as “a really smart young man who’s never caught a break.”

“He managed to turn everything good that came his way into something bad, which is what happens when you grow up in a crack-infested environment,” Kellman said.

Tyree had been on parole since last summer and in February surrendered on a warrant at his girlfriend’s home without incident, authorities said. He had violated parole before and in a July 2013 letter, federal prosecutors said he attended a 2012 meeting of gang members, used drugs and was paid dues by other gang members.

In a court proceeding, Tyree denied he was still a Blood.
___

Associated Press writers Tom Hays and Ula Ilnytzky contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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