NEW YORK — Two New York Police Department officers were shot and killed Saturday in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.
At a press conference Saturday evening, New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton identified the shooter as 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who fled the area and later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
“Today, two of New York’s finest were shot and killed with no warning, with no provocation,” Bratton said. “They were, quite simply, assassinated — targeted for their uniform and for the responsibility they embraced to keep the people of this city safe.”
At 2:47 p.m., New York City police officers Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjian Liu, a seven-year veteran of the force, were sitting in their marked patrol car when Brinsley approached, Bratton said.
“He took a shooting stance on the passenger side and fired his weapon several times through the front passenger window, striking both officers in the head,” Bratton said.
Bratton said the officers, who had been assigned to that particular location to address complaints of violence in the area, did not have an opportunity to draw their weapons and may have not even seen Brinsley.
They were both taken to Brooklyn’s Woodhull Medical Center where they died from their injuries.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) December 21, 2014
Brinsley reportedly ran to a nearby subway station and shot himself in the head on the train platform. He was taken to Brooklyn Hospital Center where he was pronounced dead.
Bratton said Brinsley had a “very strong bias against police officers,” according to his social media accounts, which indicated that he had traveled earlier Saturday from Baltimore, Md., where he was linked to another incident where a woman was shot and wounded.
Reactions flood in from across the country
The killings come on the heels of months of demonstrations around the country, centered in Ferguson, Mo., protesting several recent police killings of unarmed black men and a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer who killed Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, with a chokehold.
On Saturday evening, the hashtag #BlueLivesMatter lit up Twitter, a reference to the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag associated with the protests.
— Det. Martin Green (@NYPD_CTTF) December 21, 2014
“Let’s face it, there has been a very strong anti-police, anti-criminal justice system set of initiatives underway,” Bratton said, adding that it wasn’t yet clear whether Brinsley had been part of any of the demonstrations.
Rev. Al Sharpton released a statement Saturday evening condemning the use of violence as a means of revenge.
“We have stressed at every rally and march that anyone engaged in any violence is an enemy to the pursuit of justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown,” Sharpton said. “The Garner family and I have always stressed that we do not believe that all police are bad, in fact we have stressed that most police are not bad.”
On the other side of the country, the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted that officers would wear a black band to mourn the two victims.
— Chief Charlie Beck (@LAPDChiefBeck) December 20, 2014
“Our city is in mourning, our hearts are heavy,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the press conference. “We lost two good men who devoted their lives to protecting ours. Officer Ramos and Officer Liu died in the line of duty, protecting the city they loved.”
In a statement, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “This deplorable act of violence is the opposite of what New York is and what New Yorkers believe in. Tonight, we all come together to mourn the loss of these brave souls.”
Carey Reed contributed to this report.