The “dangerous criminal” who was shot by NYPD cops after he opened fire – striking a Bronx officer – died early Wednesday, authorities confirmed.
Rameek Smith, 25, died at St. Barnabas Hospital around 3:30 am, cops said.
The shootout unfolded after Officer Dennis Vargas, who works for the Bronx Borough public safety team, and his partner spotted the suspect walking near 3rd Avenue and Claremont Parkway at around 10:45 pm, according to Chief of Detectives James Essig.
After Vargas, 32, and his partner, who were in uniform, exited their unmarked car, Smith fled on foot, officials said.
The two cops gave chase and after a block-and-a-half pursuit, Smith turned around on Bathgate Avenue and allegedly fired two shots at the cops, striking Vargas. The officers returned fire, hitting Smith in the head, police and sources said.
Sources said Smith was initially stopped because it appeared he was carrying a weapon.
Vargas – an eight year veteran, whose father-in-law is also a cop – was taken to Lincoln Medical Center in stable condition and released hours later.
“We’re extremely fortunate this morning that our officer is recovering after being shot by a dangerous criminal who shouldn’t have been on the streets of the Bronx or anywhere else,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell tweeted. “NYPD officers are here for New Yorkers day and night — risking their lives without hesitation.”
Smith’s last known address is a homeless shelter on Castleton Avenue in Staten Island, but he has family who lives nearby in the Bronx, Essig said.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell called Smith “a dangerous criminal who should not have been on the streets of the Bronx or anywhere else.”
He was last arrested in March 2020 at a Coney Island subway station. He was allegedly found with a gun after being stopped for fare evasion and charged with criminal possession of a weapon, officials and sources said.
He was also convicted of robbery in 2016 and given five years probation, officials said.
Smith pleaded guilty last December in the gun case and was released until his sentencing, which has been delayed twice. He is due back in court in June, officials said.
Mayor Eric Adams called Smith’s case a prime example of why he’s pushing for reforms.
“People want to ask, Why am I cracking down on fare evasions? That’s why. People want to ask why we conducted 300,000 station inspections. That’s why.”
“People want to ask, why are we pushing for reform?” Hiszoner continued. “That’s why. This is what we are up against.”