The admitted accomplice of a man accused of shooting a Nassau County police officer has cut a deal with prosecutors to testify against the alleged triggerman at his upcoming trial, an assistant district attorney said Monday.
The so-called “cooperation agreement” allows 23-year-old Renhang Qiu to plead guilty to a first-degree burglary charge in exchange for a seven-year prison sentence and five years of probation, according to court records. Qiu, who pleaded guilty in May, is currently awaiting sentencing. As part of his deal, he will testify against his alleged co-defendant, Cong Xu, 22.
Both men were arrested last August after they allegedly tried to burglarize a New Hyde Park home, which is owned by one of Qiu’s relatives. The homeowners were supposed to be out of town, but Xu stumbled upon them inside the home while he was trying to ransack the residence, according to statements the men gave to police after they were arrested. The frightened homeowners had called 911 and then hid in a bedroom closet.
“I couldn’t find any valuables on the first floor, so I went to the second floor and took a handgun out of the backpack,” Xu’s statement said. “I heard a noise from the closet and went to it. There was a male and female inside the closet. I told them not to move and I ran out of the house.”
When he ran outside – gun in hand – Xu was looking for Qiu, who was supposed to act as the getaway driver, authorities said, but encountered police officers instead. Xu is alleged to have shot Nassau County Police Officer Mohit Arora when the cop confronted him outside the home. “I wanted to get away,” he later told police. “I turned around to my left side and fired about three shots from the gun.”
Police have said a shootout engulfed the quiet residential neighborhood as officers chased Xu through a schoolyard and onto a cul-de-sac. Residents said they heard repeated gunshots and found cars riddled with bullet holes after the firefight. Xu was found hiding under a parked car.
Qiu, the alleged getaway driver, told Nassau County Court Judge Philip Grella that he took off in his father’s Nissan Altima after he heard a “commotion” and realized that Xu had shot someone. “I was trying to flee the scene,” he said. “I knew [Xu] took the gun to break into the house but I didn’t think that anyone would get hurt.”
The men told cops they targeted the home because houses “like that” often have large amounts of cash. Xu was to receive 70 percent of the proceeds, but ended up fleeing empty handed. Police later recovered his backpack that contained a blowtorch, gloves, flashlight and masks.
Prosecutors have said Arora and the homeowners have agreed to the terms of Qiu’s plea deal. Xu, who has pleaded not guilty, is expected to go on trial in September. Both men remain jailed without bail.