Backed off, man pulled gun on police

The man who pulled a handgun on police in Washington Heights and wounded two officers three weeks ago was released from prison three years ago, and has not been employed since he was paroled, police and other sources said yesterday.

Hours after his arrest yesterday, Larry Mitchell, 41, was being questioned by prosecutors about the March 4 attack on police on Eighth Avenue and Saint Nicholas Avenue.

Mr Mitchell, of Edgewater, New Jersey, was indicted in Manhattan on two counts of attempted murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of criminal possession of a weapon and two counts of menacing with a weapon.

A grand jury yesterday also indicted two of Mr Mitchell’s cohorts, Mark Cowlen, 24, and Xavier Goldshake, 23, on two counts of attempted murder, one count of criminal possession of a weapon and three counts of menacing with a weapon.

A source close to the investigation said, however, that none of the men face the death penalty.

Michael Matten, a friend of Mr Mitchell, described him as “a civic minded person” who also sought counselling for his alcoholism.

“I have never seen him be disrespectful to anybody. You would never expect him to do something like this.”

Edward Maguire, a spokesman for Mr Mitchell, said he “would not discuss his personal life or past professional matters”, but said that he had been arrested 31 times, had served 20 years in prison and had “failed to find work in almost all industries” since he was paroled.

He added that Mr Mitchell has five children, four by his second wife, whom he divorced after the attack on the two officers, Justin Balderrama and Eduardo Rivera.

The two officers were responding to a shooting when Mr Mitchell pulled a loaded .38-calibre handgun from a backpack and began firing, witnesses said. The officers were hit once each, and the bullet rounds hit three parked cars before the man was arrested.

One of the officers, now in stable condition, and the other, discharged after surgery, are scheduled to be interviewed today by authorities and have a doctor’s examination tomorrow.

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