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Astoria cop halts attack in Chinatown

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An off-duty detective from Astoria's 114th Precinct came to the rescue of a 26-year-old Manhattan woman last week after two razor-wielding men attacked her in a Chinatown apartment building where she worked as a desk clerk, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

Detective Martin Carrano, a 20-year NYPD veteran who works in the 114th Precinct, fatally shot one attacker and wounded another after they attacked the victim in the building's lobby, Kelly said.

Carrano first met Artenida Gjeli, the victim, after she filed a harassment suit with the precinct against her ex-boyfriend, Kelly said.

The detective had been speaking with the woman around 10:30 p.m. on May 28 at 123 Baxter St., a residential building where she worked as a desk clerk, about recent threatening phone calls she had allegedly received from her ex-boyfriend, police said.

Moments later, two Hispanic men entered the building and told the desk clerk that they wanted to rent a room for the night, Kelly said. The woman then told the men that the building was not a hotel, he said.

The defendants allegedly grabbed Carrano and slashed him on the back of the head, but he broke free and left the lobby, Kelly said. One of the assailants then jumped over the reception desk, while the other man ran around the side of the desk and both men began to attack Gjeli, Kelly said.

She slid to the floor and attempted to fight the two men, who slashed her across the left side of her face, left hand and upper right thigh, Kelly said.

Carrano re-entered the lobby and fired at the two assailants, fatally shooting one in the abdomen and hitting the other man in the right arm and abdomen, the commissioner said. The second man was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital to be treated for his injuries, Kelly said.

Gjeli was taken to Bellevue Hospital and listed in stable condition, while Carrano received several staples to the back of his head at St. Vincent's, Kelly said.

She told police that she had called Carrano earlier in the day to report an alleged series of harassing phone calls from her ex-boyfriend, Aleksander Vacaj, 32, an Albanian native who lives in East Lodi, N.J., Kelly said. The 114th Precinct had opened a harassment case against Vacaj in early May, he said.

Police said last Thursday that they were searching for Vacaj on aggravated harassment charges after he allegedly threatened to harm the victim. Vacaj was described as a 5-foot-11-inch white male believed to weigh 220 pounds.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300. Ext. 156.

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