A heroic police officer was wounded and a violent ex-con was killed Tuesday when a gunfight broke out in a crowded Harlem subway station, sending straphangers scrambling for their lives.
Despite being hit in the arm, Detective Kevin Herlihy fatally blasted suspect Michael McBride in the chest in a close-range shootout. McBride, 52, was wanted for shooting his girlfriend’s daughter in the head in Queens on Monday.
The wounded plainclothes officer — a Navy vet and a father of three children, including a 13-month-old daughter — was taken to Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital.
“He has a guardian angel,” said Herlihy’s father, Vance Herlihy, 72, a retired NYPD cop.
“Thank God he’s safe,” the officer’s sister, Diane DeMartino, 46, added.
Herlihy (left), 47, started his day by giving his wife a Valentine’s Day surprise, a Zales bracelet. Hours later, he was locked in a life-or-death confrontation.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who along with Mayor Bloomberg also went to the hospital to check on the 18-year NYPD veteran, called Herlihy’s near-miss “miraculous.”
“He not only survived, he was able to stop the assailant from shooting anyone else,” Kelly said.
“All of us here are incredibly grateful that Detective Herlihy is alive,” Bloomberg added.
Rattled witnesses said they heard up to 17 shots in the station at W. 145th St. and St. Nicholas Ave. that sent them screaming and diving for cover behind benches and trash cans.
“It was ‘pow! pow! pow!’” said a woman who was present when a volley of bullets erupted at 4:15 p.m. The woman said she saw five officers run into the station with guns drawn.
“It was so loud,” she said. “When it stopped, I looked up and saw people on the floor.”
Edwin Pagan, 47, said he entered the station to check his MetroCard.
“At least 17 shots rang out,” said Pagan. “There was a woman with a baby carriage running behind me and everybody was trampling over each other.”
When the gunfire stopped, he said, he heard a detective standing over the mortally wounded suspect yelling, “It’s over! It’s over!” to backup cops entering the station.
NYPD Violent Felony Squad detectives from Queens traced pings from McBride’s (right) cell phone and narrowed down his whereabouts. Detectives spotted him walking on 145th St., near the apartment of a friend he had been staying with, just after 4 p.m., Kelly said.
When officers yelled for McBride to stop, he ran into the southeast entrance of the station at 145th St. and St. Nicholas, Kelly said. McBride ran across the mezzanine to the northwest exit, where he turned and fired at Herlihy from 10 feet, hitting the cop in the left bicep.
A source said it appeared McBride had his .22-caliber revolver wrapped in Tuesday’s edition of the Daily News.
“He shielded the gun with the Daily News and then turned and fired,” the police source said.
Herlihy, who has two citations for excellent police duty, managed to squeeze off 13 rounds, hitting McBride in the chest.
McBride collapsed on the northwest stairs leading out of the station and the six-shooter fell to his side. He died at Harlem Hospital. Kelly said Herlihy was the only officer who fired and that McBride expended all the bullets in his gun during the shootout.
The explosion of violence happened just moments after police sent out a media advisory that detectives were hunting for McBride for questioning in the Monday shooting.
Detectives believe McBride shot Shante Plowden (left), 25, his girlfriend’s daughter, in the head during an argument about 1:35 p.m. Monday in the ninth-floor hallway of her apartment building on Beach 100th St. in Far Rockaway, Queens.
Her father, Ashton Plowden, said the bullet is still in her forehead. “She’s very strong … It’s definitely a miracle,” he said.
He said McBride had come to the apartment looking for Shante’s mother, who had kicked him out of her place. “It was something that was targeted for her mother and unfortunately (Shante) was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
Plowden was listed in critical condition Tuesday at North Shore University Hospital in Nassau County.
Surveillance video apparently showed McBride arguing with Plowden and then dragging her out of the camera’s view, a source said. Plowden was able to tell cops that McBride shot her, sources said.
A friend said Plowden had expressed her dislike of McBride, who began dating her mother a year ago.
“She didn’t like the situation between her mother and him, but she was always a positive person,” Tiffany Llewellyn, 25, of Brooklyn told The News.
McBride’s rap sheet includes convictions for robbery, burglary and drug crimes dating back to 1980. He was paroled in July 2008 after serving part of a 12- to-25-year sentence for robbery. It was the third time McBride had done prison time. In 1985, he wrapped up a four-year term for burglary.
The Tuesday clash follows a rash of police-involved shootings in the city, including one in December that killed Officer Peter Figoski, 47, and another Jan. 31 in which Officer Kevin Brennan survived.