A Metropolitan Transportation Authority police officer was expected to undergo surgery Wednesday after being stabbed in the eye during an altercation under a Queens LIRR station.
MTA Executive director Joe Lhota says Edgar Owens, 46, of the Bronx confronted Officer John Barnett under the Jamaica Road Station platform and stabbed him without warning.
Even after being stabbed, Lhota says Barnett warned Owens to put down his knife. When Owens refused the officer fired four shots, hitting Owens three times and killing him.
He was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital.
"He confronted a violent person, an individual who posed a threat directly to him and to everyone around the officer, he took action without regards to his personal safety, I am absolutely in awe of his bravery," Lhota said.
"We heard one shot and then three seconds later we heard two successive ones," said one witness.
Lhota says Barnett was in good spirits Wednesday, though it is too early to tell the extent of his injury which doctors described as a "devastating wound".
"It was a very rude awakening for the family as a whole and it's very upsetting," said Barnett's sister, Belinda Barnett-Andrea.
Lhota says Owens has a history of provoking police officers.
"Owens has a history of confronting police officers without provocation. In 2006, he walked into the 216 precinct house and punched an officer in the face. In 2007 he walked into the 103 precinct and said he wanted to get arrested and if he didn't he would punch somebody in the face as well," Lhota said.
Barnett, who lives in Suffolk County, served a year in the NYPD before joining the MTA force.
He is also a U.S. Navy veteran and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Among those praising Barnett's actions Wednesday was Governor Andrew Cuomo, who called the officer before his surgery to thank him for his bravery.
Lhota says the entire incident was caught on MTA security cameras and will be used in the investigation.