Cop Who Shielded Fellow Officers In Hail Of Bullets Released From Hospital
Detective Kenneth Ayala was holding on to the shield tightly, as if his life depended on it. That's because it did, as did the lives of the half a dozen ESU officers with him trying to peacefully end a hostage situation in Sheepshead Bay early Easter Morning.

He had taken two rounds already. One to the thigh, the other his foot. He couldn't even walk, but continued to hold on tightly to the shield. It was really the only thing between a gun-wielding career criminal armed to the teeth and his fellow Emergency Services Unit officers of the NYPD.

A 33 year old career criminal, Nakwon Foxworth went on a rampage, taking his infant son and pregnant girlfriend hostage after getting into a beef with two guys delivering furniture who'd blocked a freight elevator. Then a dozen bullets were flying out of Apartment 6 K at 3301 Nostrand Avenue.

When the smoke cleared, the officers had shot 33 year old Foxworth twice in the abdomen, but four officers had been struck as well. All shot with Foxworth's illegal cache of guns purchased during one buy trip to North Carolina.

Two walked out of the hospital in time to have Easter Dinner with family. But two others were left behind to get treated for the gunshot wounds. Monday afternoon, dozens of their fellow officers gathered to cheer on Detective Kenneth Ayala as he left the Sunset Park hospital in a wheelchair.

This reporter had to shout to be heard over the cheers and applause. "How's it feel to be leaving?" I queried. Ayala didn't hesitate. With a smile spread across his face he said simple, "Great. It's nice to go home."

The emotion was plain to read on his face as he left Lutheran Medical Center after being treated for two gunshot wounds to the thigh and foot. He was quick to give a thumbs up to his fellow officers in the Emergency Services Unit there to show their support for his service.

Lt. Richard Lobasso of the ESU spoke on his way in to see the remaining officer still recovering from his wound. "He does a lot of work, he trains hard and he's fantastic guy. He's fantastic to have on the team."

That training kicked while Ayala's ESU team of 15 officers worked to the diffuse a hostage situation with a career criminal in Sheepshead Bay early Easter Morning. Police say Nakwon Foxworth was holding his pregnant girlfriend and 4 month old son hostage inside a gun and ammo filled apartment. She broke free--and four officers were hit in a hail of bullets--but Ayala kept many of rounds at bay by holding a specialized shield in place--despite taking two bullets and being unable to walk.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was joined by Mayor Bloomberg on Easter to field reporters' questions. "The gunfight occured in close quarters with the assailant and the officers no more than 10 feet apart. Although hit, Detective Ayala and Granahan returned fire, striking Foxworth in the abdomen."

The 33-year-old Foxworth has spent a third of his life behind bars. Ayala said he was grateful to go home to his family--modestly insisting teamwork kept all the officers alive.

Detective Michael Keenan is still at Lutheran Medical Center, recovering after taking a bullet to the calf.