Two United States Marshals and a member of the NYPD were presented with the U.S. Marshals Service Purple Heart Award at the federal courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn on Tuesday after they were injured in the line of duty while attempting to arrest a child molestation suspect over the summer.
“Today I stand here with the privilege to recognize the dedication of this law enforcement mission and the courage they showed on July 28,” said Stacia Hylton, director of the U.S. Marshals Service. “It is truly an honor. All of us are grateful for the danger you put yourself in and work that you did every single day out there on the street.”
Deputy Marshals Patrick Lin and Ryan Thomas D. Westfield and NYPD Detective Mario Anthony Muniz were injured in the line of duty while attempting to arrest 32-year-old suspect Charles Richard Mozdir in a smoke shop in Greenwich Village. Mozdir, who had been on the run for more than two years, was killed during the attempted arrest.
“When the fugitive was identified inside of a smoke shop in Greenwich Village, rather than surrendering, he opened fire on the officers,” said Hon. Carol Bagley Amon, the chief judge of the Eastern District court. “He obviously preferred death to capture and sought to take these three men with him.
“I would just like to express my gratitude, not only for the sacrifices that these three men have made, but the fine work that all of the members of the joint fugitive task force and the marshals in the Eastern District of New York led so ably by Marshal Charlie Dunne,” Amon continued.
Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of New York Patrick Lin, NYPD Detective Mario Anthony Muniz and Marshal Ryan Thomas D. Westfield.
Mozdir was wanted on child molestation charges after he failed to appear at an arraignment in San Diego County in 2012. Authorities didn’t have many leads and turned to the U.S. Marshals for help after Mozdir’s car was found abandoned in Georgia, Hylton said. Mozdir’s case was eventually featured on the CNN program “The Hunt,” hosted by John Walsh, which, authorities said, provided marshals with tips that eventually led to the discovery of Mozdir’s whereabouts.
Mozdir immediately opened fire after marshals entered the smoke shop in Manhattan just after 1 p.m. on July 28 of this year. The struggle lasted just 90 seconds, but Hylton described it as “exceptionally violent.” The detective and one of the marshals were each shot twice. All three men were rushed to the hospital with serious injuries.
“Their injuries and wounds were significant, but they survived because of their work, training, the people they are and the work of their team,” Hylton said. “We are so grateful that they are here with us today.”
The U.S. Marshals Service Purple Heart Award is presented in the tradition of the military Purple Heart Award that was established by George Washington to honor members of the armed forces injured or those killed by enemy action. The marshals established their own award four years ago to recognize those who show valor and are injured in the line of duty in the streets of the United States.
The marshals honored Tuesday are members of the New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force, which, at 12 years old, is the oldest regional task force in the country. It has 380 members from two different states and is comprised of five federal judicial districts and eight different agencies. Nationally, the U.S. Marshals apprehend more than 120,000 fugitives each year. The marshals estimate that there are as many as 750,000 registered sex offenders in the country with about 100,000 who are non-compliant or violent fugitives.