The teen accused of shooting a Yonkers police officer in the face during an ambush was set free just days before by a judge after being caught with large cache of weapons a few months ago.
The New York Post reports that Frank Valencia, now 18, is currently facing charges stemming from Monday’s events when Yonkers police officer Kayla Maher, 26, was struck in the face during a shooting between herself and her partner, and Valencia and his friend. The bullet went in through one side of her chin and out the other, and the officer was listed in serious but stable condition.
Valencia was also hospitalized following the shooting and listed in critical condition.
A Bronx district attorney told the newspaper that a judge released Valencia at a September 20 hearing, when the suspect was in court for possession of a semi-automatic handgun, 300 rounds of ammunition plus a machete and a set of brass knuckles earlier this year.
Police made the discovery when they stopped him at a White Castle in the Bronx on May 31.
Judge George Villegas of Bronx Supreme Court gave Valencia only probation and youthful-offender status because he was 17 at the time.
Bronx DA spokesperson Patrice O’Shaughnessy said the prosecution did not agree with the judge’s decision.
He said, “We objected to the plea being offered, because we would never have offered a non-jail deal in this case.”
Monday’s shooting occurred when Maher was called to check out a suspiciously parked car that was blasting music. Yonkers Police Commissioner Charles Gardner told the New York Post that when Maher approached the car, Valencia “opened fire with no warning at point-blank range.”
The injured officer and her partner were pinned behind the car while the partner called for an ambulance.
Maher is a two-year veteran of the Yonkers Police Department.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said of the officer, “She is gutsy and you can see it, and she is certainly what we have come to expect from our department.”
Maher was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon, surrounded by a crowd of Yonkers police officers cheering her on.
[Feature photo: City of Yonkers]