MTA Cop Could Lose Eye In LIRR Attack
A 16-year veteran Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) police officer is recovering at Jamaica Hospital Center after undergoing 4½ hours of surgery on July 4, to try and save his left eye.
MTA Officer John Barnett was on routine patrol at a cab stand outside the LIRR Jamaica Avenue station at about 9:30 a.m. on July 4, when a man with a history of unprovoked attacks against police officers walked up to Barnett and stabbed him with a gravity knife, MTA chairperson Joseph Chota said.
Edgar Owens, 46, plunged the knife into Barnett’s left temple, nearly slicing his left eye in half, an MTA hospital spokesperson said.
Chota said Barnett, with no regard for his injury, pulled his service weapon and ordered Owens multiple times to drop the knife. When Owens refused to comply, Barnett fired four rounds from his weapon, striking Owens three times in the jaw, hip and chest.
Owens was taken to Jamaica Hospital Center where he was declared dead on arrival, police said.
“Officer Barnett reacted to the danger to himself and everyone else around him,” Chota said. “I am absolutely in awe of his bravery.”
Barnett was rushed to Jamaica Hospital Center where a team of doctors performed 4½ hours of painstaking surgery in an attempt to save his eye. Doctors said it would take at least a few days to determine if Barnett would lose the eye.
“Officer Barnett suffered a devastating injury,” the doctors said. “Only time will tell.”
Barnett’s sister, Belinda Barnett Andrea, told reporters she was able to speak with her brother before he went into surgery. “He’s in a lot of pain,” the sister said. “But he managed to have a positive attitude.”
Barnett Andrea said her brother, a member of the Navy Reserve, served several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We are proud of him for protecting the streets every day, for fighting for his country and for the person he is,” she said. “When something like this happens, it gives you a new perspective on everything.”
Chota said Owens was no stranger to law enforcement and was known for his unprovoked attacks on police officers.
“In 2006, Mr. Owens walked into the 26th Precinct stationhouse and punched an officer in the face,” Chota said. “And in 2007 he walked into the 103rd Precinct here in Queens, saying he wanted to get arrested – and if he didn’t he would punch someone in the face,” Chota said.
Chota said surveillance video at the Jamaica Station and at local businesses showed the horrific attack in “great detail.” The surveillance shows Officer Barnett talking with a cabbie at a cab station underneath the LIRR Jamaica Avenue station,” Chota said. “Then with no argument or warning, Owens walked up to Officer Barnett with the knife in his right hand and, unprovoked, stabs Officer Barnett in the eye,” Chota said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke with Barnett prior to surgery, honoring him for his bravery, family members said.
Barnett, the single father of an 11-year-old son, lives with his mother and son on Long Island.