MANHATTAN - Another NYPD officer from Long Island escaped serious injury from gunfire this morning, officials say. A suspect opened fire on officer Thomas Richards, of Great Neck, early this morning, authorities say. The metal on a magazine on Richards' gun belt deflected the bullet, potentially saving his life. It's the third time since January an NYPD officer from Long Island has survived gunfire on the job. "We are lucky again and another miracle," said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly. "If it had been up an inch, it would have been up into the officer's body." The shooting happened around 1:45 a.m. on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, officials say. Investigators say Richards, 36, and his partner, Thomas Duane, who is also from Long Island, were fired upon as they exited a police van near a housing complex. Police say a suspect is in custody and a gun was recovered. Richards has been released from the hospital.

Photo credit: NYPD | NYPD released a photograph of the recovered 9mm Taurus handgun used to fire upon officer Thomas Richards in Manhattan. (Feb. 27, 2012). Courtesy of Newsday.