NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- New Rochelle Police Officer Steven Geertgens shot and killed a mentally-disturbed man wielding a butcher knife earlier today, sources say. The incident occurred about 3:00 p.m. Sunday.
Geertgens, a highly decorated officer, was appointed to the Department in January 2001, and is currently assigned to the Police Services Division's Critical Incident Unit. He is the recipient of two Class C Citations, six Commendation Awards, and one Lifesaving Award.
New Rochelle Police would only confirm there is an ongoing investigation into reports that a New Rochelle police officer was involved in a fatal shooting on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, Talk of the Sound received
unconfirmed confirmed reports that an officer shot and fatally wounded a person at an apartment building at 18 Hickory Street, a small side street off Church Street between Prospect Street and Davis Avenue. Police are on the scene now and have the area closed off. The man was reportedly described by police as a "disturbed person".
Sources tell Talk of the Sound that police initially attempted to enter the second floor apartment at 18 Hickory Street after receiving a complaint around 3:00 p.m. The man in the apartment refused to allow officers into the apartment. As they entered the apartment, the man came at the officers with a knife. The man was tasered but kept coming at officers. It was at this point that officer Geertgens reportedly fired on the man, wounding him. The man was taken to Jacobi Medical Center and later pronounced dead.
UPDATE: 5:00 PM: A neighbor came out of the building and made a statement to reporters.
Annette Deutsch identified herself as a friend and neighbor of Samuel Cruz, 48, who she identified as the victim.
Deutsch said Cruz was mentally ill but was being treated with medications. She says he went "off his meds" because it interfered with his work as an artist. Deutsch said she called New Rochelle police last Thursday to tell them Cruz was off his medication. She said police responded that same day. She said Cruz would never pick up a knife.
Deutsch said that Cruz put a butcher knife up against a guy (indicating the knife point was pointed at another person's chest) and was shot. Cruz was alive when he was removed from the scene by paramedics but later died.
Deutsch said Cruz was a patient at The Guidance Center at 70 Grand Street in New Rochelle, NY.
On Facebook, Samuel Cruz of New Rochelle identifies himself as a "pintor, artista y escritor" (painter, artist and writer) from New Rochelle, NY.
The Facebook profile indicates that Cruz lived in New Rochelle since January 2009 and that his hometown was Caguas, Puerto Rico.
He attended the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus in San Juan, Puerto Rico where he majored in Artes Plasticas (Plastics Arts) and graduated in 1983 from José Campeche High School in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico.