By Danny Schrafel
Suffolk County Police Officer Mark Collins, a Second Precinct Crime Section gang unit officer who was shot Wednesday night in Huntington Station during a pursuit, is making “remarkable progress” and is set to be released from the hospital tomorrow, police officials announced Saturday morning.
“The condition of Officer Collins has been upgraded to good. The Stony Brook staff states he’s showing remarkable progress,” a police spokesperson said.
At noon tomorrow, police officers and SCPD staff will be on hand at Stony Brook University Hospital, where Collins was airlifted after he was shot, to wish him well and celebrate his recovery, officials said.
Collins was shot twice – once in the neck and once in the hip – after a traffic stop near East Jericho Turnpike and Mercer Court shortly before midnight Wednesday, March 11.
Andrea Golinsky, a spokesperson for the Huntington Community First Aid Squad, the ambulance corps that transported Collins, was thrilled by the news four days later.
“It’s amazing. What a lucky person,” she said.
Sheldon Leftenant, 22, who is listed with addresses in Huntington Station and Mastic Beach, was arraigned March 12, accused in the attempted aggravated murder of a police officer. He faces 40 years to life in prison if convicted.
During a post-arraignment courthouse press conference March 12, Suffolk County DA Thomas Spota said police pulled over a vehicle, containing Leftenant and three other occupants, because they had passed the unmarked car and were swerving in and out of lanes of traffic at high speed.
During the traffic stop, as the driver turned over his license and registration, the two back-seat passengers were “fidgety, nervous, moving their hands in and out of their pockets,” Spota said.
The incident escalated when Leftenant is said to have bolted from the back seat and ran across Jericho Turnpike. Collins and another officer ran after him.
As Collins closed in, Leftenant – whom Collins later said he believed he had hit with a Taser – opened fire, said Spota. Another officer found Collins lying in the street, “bleeding profusely” from his neck, Spota continued. Leftenant was arrested about a block away, discovered hiding in a shed.
Despite his wounds, Spota said Collins was able to identify Leftenant as his assailant to officers who came to his aid.
Leftenant pleaded not guilty and is due back in court Tuesday, March 17.
Collins is a decorated officer in the Second Precinct Crime Section’s anti-gang unit and a recent past recipient of the department’s Officer of the Year honor in 2008, as well as a Bravery Gold Medal for rescuing a man from a house fire in Huntington Station in 2008.