A gunman who killed two unarmed volunteer police officers and a bartender had been repeatedly kicked out of the pizzeria where the shootings began and may have been angry that a friend who worked there was fired, police said Thursday.
Wearing a fake beard, David Garvin gunned down the restaurant worker before leading police on a running gun battle through the crowded streets of Greenwich Village. He was shot dead by full-time police officers.
After the shooting stopped, Garvin's body lay bloodied and askew outside a shop on Bleecker Street, near New York University and close to several famous bars and restaurants, including Cafe Wha?, where Bob Dylan used to perform.
Garvin, 42, had been carrying two semiautomatic firearms and a bag with a fake beard and 100 rounds of ammunition, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that Garvin had no psychiatric history, but a family member indicated he exhibited increasing paranoia in recent years, claiming that people were "out to get him."
"He was heavily armed and prepared to kill at will," Kelly said. He credited the auxiliary officers who were killed, Nicholas Todd Pekearo and Eugene Marshalik, with helping to prevent more carnage. Auxiliary officers are civilians who conduct patrols wearing uniforms nearly identical to regular police.
‘I hit the ground’
Andy Paul, a singer whose band was about to perform, said people had flocked to the area's outdoor cafes to enjoy one of the first warm evenings of spring-like weather when the gunshots began.
The gunman "was running this way putting a new clip in," Paul said Thursday. "He turned around, firing at the cops."
"I hit the ground. I wasn't paying attention to anything. I just didn't want to get shot," he said.
The rampage began around 9 p.m. when Garvin went into a pizzeria, asked for a menu, then shot an employee 15 times in the back, Bloomberg said. Police identified the victim as Alfredo Romero, 35.
Kelly said Garvin was apparently a customer of the pizzeria and had been kicked out several times. He said police also were investigating whether the recent firing of a friend who worked at the restaurant played a role.
Garvin fled after the shooting, and police who heard the shots radioed information about the gunman. Pekearo and Marshalik approached the gunman, who fired at them.
One of the officers ordered Garvin to drop a bag full of weapons. He did, but then he led them on a chase before turning on them, and shot Marshalik in the back of the head.
Police released surveillance footage that showed Pekearo ducking behind a car before he was fatally shot as Garvin hovered over him.
Garvin reportedly fired about 26 rounds
Garvin then exchanged gunfire with regular officers, who shot him, the mayor said. Authorities said Garvin shot about 26 rounds in the rampage.
In a search of Garvin's Bronx apartment, authorities found another weapon, a loaded .357-caliber revolver and about 100 rounds of ammunition, along with a wig, false moustache and knives, Kelly said.
Garvin had been a bartender at another Manhattan spot until last month, when he was fired, said Brian Barrow, manager of the Raccoon Lodge.
"It just wasn't working out as a bartender," he said. "There was no animosity."
Barrow said Garvin was "very soft-spoken. You'd never guess that he would turn around and kill three people but it seems that's usually the way it is."
Police also found a resume on Garvin's computer that listed jobs as a newspaper reporter, stringer and layout editor for The Wall Street Journal and The Mohave Valley Daily News of Bullhead City, Ariz.
Garvin was an information graphics coordinator for the Journal from 2000 to 2005, said Dow Jones spokesman Robert Christie.
Pekearo, 28, was a writer with a book scheduled to be published soon, the mayor said. Marshalik, 19, a student at nearby New York University, had emigrated from Russia, Bloomberg said.
The younger man joined the auxiliary force after deciding he wanted to become a prosecutor.
"He would say he really enjoyed it," said Tatyana Kochergina said at her cousin's suburban home. "He got along with everybody on the squad. Sometimes he would ride along with the NYPD. He felt like it was where he wanted to be."
Vest gave little protection
Pekearo was wearing a bulletproof vest, but only one shot hit the vest; bullets punctured his skin six times.
Someone taped a sign to a neighborhood lamppost, along with pink silk flowers. It read: "Rest in peace, our beloved auxiliaries."
City officials said the two auxiliary officers, the first to die in the line of duty since 1993, would get full police honors at their funerals. Only five other auxiliary officers have died on the job in the city's history.
Kelly said the city's nearly 4,500 auxiliary officers are not required to respond to emergency calls, but often serve as the "eyes and ears" of the police force.
"Day in and day out, they sacrifice their free time and energy for the people of our city," Kelly said.