Soundview resident dubbed the ‘precinct shooter’ pleads guilty for 2020 attack on NYPD

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Robert Williams pleaded guilty on Aug. 31, 2023, to attempted murder charges after shooting up a police precinct and injuring several cops in February 2020.
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More than three years after opening fire on a Bronx precinct and injuring two cops during a 12-hour rampage, 49-year-old Robert Williams pleaded guilty to attempted murder charges.

Williams, a Soundview resident, made his plea in Bronx Criminal Court on Aug. 31, in connection with two separate shooting incidents involving police in early 2020. He pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder in the first degree, therefore waving his right to a trial.

Each count carries a 23 years-to-life sentence — in which both counts would run concurrent, according to the Bronx District Attorney’s office.

According to police, Williams, who lived at 1135 Evergreen Ave., walked up to a marked NYPD van, located at 906 Simpson St., at about 8:30 p.m. on the night of Feb. 8, 2020.

After briefly engaging in a conversation with the two police officers, Paul Stroffolino and Brian Hanlon, both of whom who were inside the van, Williams took out a gun and fired at each of them — striking Stroffolino in the face.

The officers managed to drive away, but Stroffolino sustained injuries to his chin. He was taken to Lincoln Hospital, where he was treated and later released.

Williams fled the scene, but at approximately 7:45 a.m. the next morning, he entered the main area of the 41st Precinct station house at 1035 Longwood Ave. and fired multiple shots at five NYPD officers, along with one lieutenant and one sergeant — with one of the bullets striking Lt. Jose Gatreaux in his right arm. Gatreaux was also taken to Lincoln Hospital and released following treatment, according to police.

Williams then entered a side room in the precinct and shot at another police officer and a city employee who worked at the precinct.

Williams ran out of bullets and began to walk toward the exit of the 41st Precinct, when police officers proceeded to open fire on him. Williams, avoiding injury, threw himself to the ground and tossed his gun, surrendering the weapon to cops, NYPD sources confirmed.

Following his arrest, Williams was arraigned in March 2020 on a 52-count indictment, including for attempted murder in the first degree and attempted aggravated assault upon a police officer or a peace officer.

Williams had previously spent 15 years in prison for another shooting incident involving police officers, before being released from Elmira State Prison in 2017, according to the New York Times.

According to state Department of Corrections records, Williams was also previously incarcerated at Bare Hill Correctional Facility in upstate New York on a robbery conviction.

The New York Times also reported that Williams’ son accidentally shot and killed himself, just six months after Williams was released in 2017 — leading him on a “downward spiral.”

Williams will be formally sentenced on Friday, Sept. 29, according to the Bronx DA’s office.

The Bronx Times reached out to Williams’ attorney Damien Brown, who did not return a request for comment.

Reach Steven Goodstein at [email protected] or (718) 260-4561. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes