Closest call: Off-duty officer shot in head on New Year’s Day in East Harlem released from hospital

The police officer who was shot in the head during the early hours of New Year’s Day was released from hospital on Jan. 2 to thunderous applause from police officers as well as Mayor Eric Adams, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine.

A battalion of NYPD officers stood with a salute raised outside New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center late Sunday afternoon as Officer Keith Wagenhauser was wheeled out of the hospital a day after sustaining a fractured skull in the incident.

The solemn salutes swiftly changed to an eruption of applause as he leapt from the wheelchair and proudly strode forward on his own volition despite having undergone surgery the day prior.

Wagenhauser was closely trailed by his family as he greeted Adams before piling into an awaiting van, giving one final thumbs up.

Officer Keith Wagenhauser was first wheeled out of the medical center. Photo by Dean Moses

No arrests have been made in the case, and Adams vowed that the suspect responsible for shooting Wagenhauser would be brought to justice.

“We’re going to get this shooter, and we’re going to get the shooters in the city. We’re going to get guns out of our city. Families should not have to go through this. We want this guy caught,” Adams said during the walkout.

Wagenhauser was shot after finishing an eight-hour shift at 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 1. Covering New Year’s Eve revelry in Central Park, he was scheduled to be back on the job at 7 a.m.. With dormitories at the 25th Precinct in full use, he decided to sleep in his car while parked in the precinct’s parking lot.

Officer Wagenhauser received a standing ovation. Photo by Dean Moses
Mayor Adams and NYPD commissioner Keechant Sewell watch the joyous walkout. Photo by Dean Moses

According to Commissioner Sewell, Wagenhauser, a seven-year veteran, woke up feeling a sharp pain on his head and seeing glass shards hanging from his car window. When he left the vehicle, an on-duty sergeant saw blood oozing from the officer’s head and immediately rendered aid. Wagenhauser was taken to New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center where doctors removed bullet fragments during a surgical procedure.

It is still unknown if the officer was the intended target. The investigation remains ongoing.

During the Jan. 1 police briefing on the incident, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig stated that anyone with information should contact 1-800-COPSHOT and a $10,000 reward will be given to anyone who provides information leading to an arrest.

Officer Wagenhauser offers a thumbs up. Photo by Dean Moses