The Patchogue community is hoping for the recovery of Suffolk County police officer Christopher Racioppo, who was stabbed in the leg following a motor vehicle crash in Patchogue on Saturday.
Centereach resident Jonathan Nunez was erratically driving a 1999 Mercedes Benz with no headlights on southbound South Ocean Avenue on April 10 when around 10:40 p.m., Racioppo activated his overhead lights in an attempt to pull over the vehicle, police reports said. Nunez then allegedly crashed into 2004 Nissan sedan at the intersection of South Ocean Avenue and Brook Street.
Nunez exited the vehicle and failed to comply with Racioppo’s commands, reports said. Nunez engaged in a physical altercation with Racioppo in the yard of the home located at 473 South Ocean Avenue, during which Nunez stabbed the officer in the thigh, hitting a main artery.
Two good Samaritans, former United States Marine Guillermo Sandoval, who lived at the South Ocean Avenue home, and retired NYPD officer Frank Recupero of Middle Island helped Racioppo, as Fifth Precinct officers took Nunez into custody.
Racioppo was transported to Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue and then transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery for a ruptured artery. Racioppo is recovering.
Nunez, 25, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault upon a police officer, driving while intoxicated and resisting arrest. He was admitted to Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue and will be arraigned at a later date.
The driver of the Nissan, Luis Tayupanda, of Patchogue, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
Suffolk County Police Academy in Brentwood on Monday thanked the Fifth Precinct officers and two locals for their quick actions, which helped to save Racioppo immediately after the stabbing.
“I saw Officer Racioppo’s face, and I knew we were in trouble,” Suffolk County police Sgt. Frank Samartino said during the press conference. “He was bleeding heavily from his left leg... I knew I had seconds to get him out of there.”
On Monday, Patchogue Village officials honored Sandoval for his quick-thinking efforts to save Racioppo. When Sandoval entered the village meeting, he was met with applause from village trustees.
Mayor Paul Pontieri said it was an instance of having the “right people in the right place at the right time.”
“With your background as a Marine in Iraq, you’ve been through these kinds of tragedies,” Pontieri said.
During the meeting, Sandoval said if it weren’t for Recupero, he may have not had enough time to attend to the officer. “It would’ve been too late,” he said.
Sandoval recalled he was in his upstairs living room when he first heard a loud noise. He peered outside and saw the SUV, then the Nissan. Sandoval said he watched the incident unfold as Nunez refused to obey Racioppo’s commands, and saw Nunez head into his backyard. Sandoval then entered his home, grabbed a belt to use as a tourniquet, and called 911.
“What the Marine Corps really instills in you, is that when a situation like that occurs, you don’t think about it twice – it’s second nature to run out,” Sandoval said.
Noel DiGerolamo, president of the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, said on Sunday that during the incident police applied an additional tourniquet that prevented further blood loss for Racioppo.
“We extend our thoughts to Officer Racioppo and ask all Suffolk County residents to keep him and his family in their prayers as the circumstances remain critical,” DiGerolamo said. “This incident reaffirms the dangers faced by Suffolk police every time they report for duty.”