A tranquil Sunday morning exploded in violence when a knife-wielding Bronx man unleashed terror inside a Queens home, leaving two children and two adults dead and three others wounded.
38-year-old Courtney Gordon died in a police-involved shooting outside the home after confronting officers with a kitchen knife just past 5 a.m., NYPD officials said. The horrific bloodshed also claimed the lives of an 11-year-old girl, a 12-year-old boy, a 44-year-old woman and another man in his 30s. Their names were not immediately released.
Suspect Had History of Domestic Violence
Gordon was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital after being shot by one of two police officers he stabbed with the same knife used to slaughter four family members. The officers, cut in the head and neck, are expected to fully recover.
Gordon had a history of domestic violence, including a prior arrest for strangling a partner in their Bronx home, police said. Early indicators point to a family dispute sparking Sunday’s burst of brutality in Queens’ Far Rockaway neighborhood.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Joe Kenny said “the incident appears to be family-related” but provided no further details.
Investigators are interviewing a “young lady” whose early morning 911 call first alerted police, according to NYPD Chief Jeffrey Maddrey. She told a dispatcher her cousin was “killing her relatives” inside the beachside home.
Officers Met with Grisly Scene
The first two officers on scene confronted Gordon as he emerged from the residence dragging luggage, Maddrey recounted. After being stabbed with the kitchen knife Gordon produced, one officer fired the shot that neutralized but did not kill the suspect immediately.
Other officers swarming the home discovered the lifeless 11-year-old girl on the front lawn. She was rushed to Cohen’s Children’s Hospital but “was unfortunately pronounced dead on arrival,” Maddrey said.
Gordon apparently lit a sofa ablaze to prevent officers from entering the residence, said Maddrey. Smoke filling the home’s interior slowed police from locating three more victims inside. All “succumbed to lethal stab wounds.”
Once firefighters extinguished the the flaming obstruction, the boy, woman and second man were found deceased. A critically injured 61-year-old woman was the only other survivor discovered.
She was raced to Mt. Sinai Hospital and underwent emergency surgery, a hospital spokeswoman said. Her condition was not released Sunday evening.
Investigators Still Piecing Together Details
Chief Kenny said several family members were present when the bloodletting erupted. The investigation remains active as detectives interview the 911 caller and other potential witnesses.
The same steak knife was probably used in both the attacks on police and the family members, said Chief Maddrey. He praised the composure of officers confronted by such violence, saying they “could have easily let this person walk past them.”
Instead, they engaged Gordon, possibly preventing further loss of life in the seaside neighborhood home to many police officers and firefighters.
Far Rockaway residents reeling from the tragedy described feeling a wave of shock and grief swept over the community. Neighbors joined area clergy in planning a Monday evening vigil to mourn the loss of so many from a single family.
“Our prayers go out to everyone affected by this tragedy,” said State Senator James Sanders Jr., who represents Far Rockaway. “May their memories be a blessing.”