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Corona rookie cop bashed with bat

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On Tuesday Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly honored the two police who nabbed the suspect with commendations at police headquarters. Danny Fernandez, 21, of 78-18 162nd St. south of Pomonok was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault on a police officer, assault, robbery, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of stolen property at his arraignment Monday, the Queens district attorney said.Fernandez was ordered held without bail and faces up to 25 years to life if convicted of the charges, a spokeswoman for the district attorney said. His next court date is Feb. 20. The assault was one of three violent incidents in the 115th Precinct, which covers Jackson Heights, Corona and East Elmhurst, over the past two weeks.A 17-year-old was shot in the chest Jan. 28 during a struggle with an off-duty police officer who was trying to break up a robbery in Jackson Heights, and a Rego Park man was fatally stabbed Sunday, also in Jackson Heights. Prosecutors said Fernandez had been looking for an officer to attack since about 9 p.m. Sunday before he chose Police Officer Joseph Cho, 30, a rookie on foot patrol near the intersection of 39th Avenue and 102nd Street. Fernandez told police he needed to pay off $16,000 in debts and would use the gun in a future robbery, prosecutors said.The suspect allegedly approached the officer from behind at about 1:20 a.m. and hit him in the head with the bat, then struck him again and took his gun and handcuffs as he lay unconscious, authorities said.Another officer on foot patrol, 22-year-old Patrick Lynch, saw the then unconscious Cho being beaten and robbed, and radioed a call to assist the officer before the former cross country runner gave chase to the attacker, police said.Much of Corona in the 115th Precinct near Roosevelt Avenue is part of a high-intensity police area called an Operation Impact zone. Lynch, who has been on the force for two months, caught Fernandez a block away in front of 37-40 102nd St. with the help of another officer new to the force, former school teacher Christine Schmidt, police said.A baseball bat was recovered at the scene of the attack, prosecutors said.Cho was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where he was listed in serious but stable condition with a fractured skull and concussion, authorities said.No shots were fired in the incident, police said."The outstanding response by these young officers to this vicious attack on their fellow officer prevented the assailant from escaping and posing an even greater risk to the public," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said."Both will also receive a check. Considering their salaries, the amount is significant," Kelly said.--Philip Newman contributed to this report.Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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