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FDNY on mind of stabbed cop saved by badge

By Daniel Massey
Newsday (New York)
Copyright 2007 Newsday, Inc.

The rookie police officer whose badge saved him from an assailant’s steak knife last week may soon be waking up to the push-ups and five-mile runs demanded of probationary firefighters instead of walking the beat in Howard Beach and Ozone Park.

Stuart Ingram, 22, said he might follow in the footsteps of his father and two uncles and join the city Fire Department.

The next academy class begins later this month, he said, and he plans to decide before then whether he’ll trade in his badge for a spot at the 6:45 a.m. calisthenics line at the Probationary Firefighter’s School on Randalls Island.

“I haven’t made an official decision,” Ingram said in a telephone interview yesterday, adding that he’s waiting to hear if he’s been accepted into an upcoming class. “There’s the next academy class going in soon. If I get into that one, I’d have to make a decision before it starts.”

He said his decision “won’t have anything to do with Thursday.”

Ingram was referring to circumstances that catapulted him from rookie cop to front-page news when Joseph Leonardi, 50, of Queens, crashed his 1995 Buick into a brick wall in Howard Beach.

Shortly afterward, Leonardi tried to stab Ingram, who was saved when the knife shattered on his NYPD badge.

Ingram’s father, Robert Ingram, is an FDNY battalion chief specializing in hazardous material operations. His father’s two brothers also are firefighters, said his grandfather, 77, who also is named Robert Ingram.

The grandfather said two of his sons were at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, when the towers collapsed.

"[Stuart’s] father was conferring with three other chiefs,” he said. “They went in one direction. He went in the other. They got killed. He was lucky.”

Ingram, who played soccer and ran track at Commack High School, took the firefighter’s exam about five years ago, about the same time he sat for the Police Department test.

“When I was younger, my dad always encouraged me to take the test,” he said yesterday. “It was there as an option. The option is still there.”