HEMPSTEAD - Police say a Hempstead Village cop has his bulletproof vest to thank for surviving a shooting during a confrontation with suspected robbers this morning.

According to police, two plainclothes officers spotted a pair of suspects in their 20s near Fulton Avenue at around 2:30 a.m. Investigators say the undercover cops stopped one of the suspects, while a second, who was wearing a ski mask, walked off. That is when police say a 25-year-old uniformed officer arrived on the scene and ordered the second suspect to stop.

"That subject began to reach inside of his coat or inside of his garments, and he came out with a weapon and he fired in the officers' direction," says Detective Lt. Kevin Smith, of the Nassau County Police Department.

Investigators say the uniformed cop was struck twice with a .38 caliber bullet, once in the forearm and once in the back of his bulletproof vest, but he managed to return fire, hitting the suspect in the groin.

Police believe the suspects robbed several pedestrians at gunpoint shortly before they were stopped. A ski mask and .38 caliber revolver were recovered at the scene, according to officials.

The injured officer has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home. The alleged gunman's condition remains unknown, but he could be charged with the attempted murder of a police officer if or when he recovers.

For a news conference on the police-involved shooting in Hempstead, go to your digital cable box and select iO Extra on Ch. 612.