NYC police officer killed after shootout

Sunday, December 11, 2005

NEW YORK -- An off-duty police officer was killed Saturday in a gunfight with two burglars outside his home, and authorities said an actor from "The Sopranos" was a suspect.

Daniel Enchautegui, 28, a three-year veteran, was pronounced dead at a hospital following the 5:15 a.m. shooting, said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

He was the second officer to die in the line of duty in two weeks.

"This is a loss to the department and the city," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who joined Kelly at the hospital. "We now have another life to mourn, taken from us for no sensible reason."

The officer had returned to his Bronx home after finishing a late shift when he heard breaking glass in an unoccupied house next door, Kelly said. The officer first called his landlord, then called 911 to report a possible burglary.

The officer grabbed his off-duty weapon and went outside to investigate. His landlord heard Enchautegui shout, "Police! Don't move!", followed by the sound of gunfire, Kelly said.

The officer was struck once in the chest with a bullet from a .357-caliber revolver. Before collapsing in the driveway of the home, he returned fire and struck both of the suspects -- one was hit twice, the other four times.

One of the suspects was identified by police as Lillo Brancato Jr., an actor who also appeared in several episodes of "The Sopranos" as Matt Bevilacqua, a mob wannabe who eventually was murdered.

He made his debut in the Robert De Niro-directed film "A Bronx Tale" back in 1993.

Brancato was arrested in June for criminal possession of a controlled substance.

A police car on routine patrol arrested Brancato as he was getting into a car, police said. The second suspect, Steven Armento, was arrested as he ran from the scene. Police identified Armento as the gunman.

Both men were taken into custody without incident and were in serious condition, Kelly said.

Although police were initially using dogs and a helicopter to search for other suspects, Kelly said it appeared only the two wounded men were involved. Subway trains were stopped for several hours as the search continued.

Another officer was shot on Nov. 28 during a car chase in Brooklyn and killed by a bullet that missed his protective vest.

A suspect in that shooting was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder in a separate shooting that wounded another officer earlier in November.

On Tuesday, two state troopers were wounded and a drug suspect was killed when shots were fired during a raid in the Bronx.

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