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Hero cop back: Shot officer returns to 78

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Officer Andrew Suarez made a triumphant — though not quite complete — return to duty at the 78th Precinct this week, nearly four months after he was shot while on patrol.

The four-year NYPD vet is expected to do administrative work within the safe precinct walls before he’s healthy enough to make a full return — but he’s thrilled to be back where the action is, even in a limited capacity.

“I like to be active, not stagnant, so it felt good [to return],” said Suarez. “It felt like it was my first day when I started and it was nice to see everybody.”

His fellow officers’ concern for their comrade dates back to Feb. 10, when Suarez was shot while sitting in an unmarked van on Prospect Place and Sixth Avenue with three other plainclothes officers.

The NYPD said that ex-con José Rivera — himself the husband of an NYPD officer — peered into the van and said, “You n—s got beef,” before he fired two shots.

One of the rounds struck Suarez underneath his bulletproof vest and got lodged in his neck.He underwent surgery at New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope and was released the same week to the thunderous applause of his colleagues.

Since then, Suarez had been home recuperating — and chafing to “get back on the horse” as he put it. He’s not all the way back, but it’s only a matter of time, said his CO.

“When I’m told he’s 100 percent, [then Suarez will go back to full duty],” said Capt. John Argenziano, commander of the 78th Precinct.

Suarez’s return was coupled with a sprinkling of holy water from his mother and a pizza party by his fellow officers.

“We’re very excited,” said Officer Michael Nuzzo. “He’s like our brother, a second family, and he was missed.”

Suarez’s partner Officer Craig Melfi, who was right next to him when the incident occurred, was perhaps the most relieved to see his old friend back.

“Just knowing he is all right and back is pretty much everything,” Melfi said.

Updated 4:29 pm, July 9, 2018
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