Suspect in Suffolk Officer of the Year Shooting Found Hiding in Shed, Arrested: Police

A 22-year-old man who allegedly shot a Suffolk County cop once named Officer of the Year was apprehended Wednesday morning after about an hour-long manhunt, authorities said.

Sheldon Leftenant was found hiding in a shed in a neighboring yard after allegedly shooting 12-year Suffolk police veteran Mark Collins twice not long after midnight, authorities said.

Authorities say Collins, who was named the department's Officer of the Year in 2008, was shot in the neck and hip on Mercer Court, just off Jericho Turnpike, in Huntington Station, during a chase that stemmed from a traffic stop.

Collins and two other officers were attempting to stop a car that was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, authorities said. There were four people in the vehicle and one person, allegedly Leftenant, ran from the car, police say.

Collins, who was in plain clothes and driving an unmarked police car, got out of his vehicle and chased after the man. Leftenant allegedly opened fire and ran off, eluding authorities for some time before he was found in the shed.

A gun was recovered from the shed and Leftenant was arrested on attempted aggravated murder and resisting arrest charges. At an afternoon arraignment, Leftenant denied any involvement.

Collins was flown to Stony Brook University Hospital early Wednesday in "serious condition" and put in a medically induced coma in the intensive care unit.

He was out of the coma by evening and said to be conscious and responsive, Suffolk police said. Authorities said he would remain in the ICU for additional monitoring.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said the officer was "speaking and able to communicate" when he arrived at the hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery.

"While we are at home, sleeping comfortably in our beds, these officers are out there working to apprehend the people who are doing harm," Bellone said.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said he would seek the maximum penalty of 40 years to life for Leftenant should he be convicted. Leftenant, who was shot in a drive-by last August but didn't corporate with police on the matter, told authorities when he was arrested Wednesday that he ran because he didn't want to be caught with the gun, according to Spota.

Spota said the August drive-by was Leftenant's only other run-in with the law. 

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