A city police officer was saved by his bulletproof vest Thursday morning in a Lower East Side housing complex and the massive search for his shooter was still underway late Thursday.
The shooting happened around 3:40 a.m. inside 64 Essex Street, part of the Seward Park Housing complex.
Investigators say Officer Brian Groves and his partner were responding to a call about suspicious activity when he encountered a man holding a silver revolver inside a 22nd floor stairwell.
The officer yelled to his partner that the man had a gun and gave chase.
The gunman turned around and fired one shot at the officer from eight feet away.
Officer Groves fired back four times, but it is unclear if the gunman was hit.
Police say he then fled down the stairs.
Groves, who was listed in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital on Thursday, was expected to make a full recovery.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Groves is a seven-year veteran of the force and father of two girls, including a newborn.
While speaking to reporters Thursday morning, Kelly displayed Groves' vest and pointed out its importance in saving his life.
"You can see that he was struck right in the chest, right at heart level. So thank god for Kevlar because it saved the officer's life," Kelly said.
"Instead of taking action on serious problems head on, instead of doing something to stem the wash of illegal guns in our country, we have gridlock that maybe worse than any other period in our nation's history," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Police describe the suspect as being in his 20s, about 5-feet-9-inches tall with a skinny build and cornrows in his hair.
He was last seen wearing a black shirt and red shorts with a beige stripe running down the sides.
The citizens group "Cop Shot" is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect's arrest. The group's toll-free hotline is 1-800-COP-SHOT.
Anyone with information about the case is also asked to contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-577-TIPS, by texting TIP577 to CRIMES, or by going to NYPDCrimeStoppers.com.