Flags flew at half staff around the city of New York on Sunday, as residents mourned the killings of two New York Police Department officers in what was characterized by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton as an assassination.
Officers Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjian Liu, 32, of the 79th precinct in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn were shot while they were in uniform in their patrol car on Saturday. The shooter, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, fled the scene following the shooting and later died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Ramos and Liu died of their injuries at Brooklyn’s Woodhull Medical Center.
NYPD officers gathered at the hospital to pay their respects and also salute their fallen colleagues.
Many turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio when he arrived to hold a press conference on Saturday night at Woodhull.
“There’s blood on many hands tonight,” said Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the country’s largest municipal police union. “That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor.”
Brinsley traveled from Baltimore earlier Saturday and shot the two officers execution-style, in an apparent retaliation for recent killings by police of unarmed black men, which sparked protests over the past few months in cities across the nation.
“I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today,” Mr. Brinsley apparently wrote on an Instagram posting, the New York Times reported. Brinsley also referred to the death of Eric Garner, a black man killed during an encounter with police in Staten Island: “They Take 1 Of Ours, Let’s Take 2 of Theirs.”
Garner’s widow, Esaw Garner, joined the Rev. Al Sharpton in Harlem for a press conference Sunday, in which she denounced the killings of officers Ramos and Liu.
“My husband was not a violent man, so we do not want any violence connected to his name,” she said.
Baltimore police said they became aware of Brinsley’s intentions on Saturday afternoon and called NYPD officials to alert them that Brinsley had traveled to Brooklyn.
The call came in less than an hour before the shooting.