Gunman Kills Two NYPD Officers In Brooklyn
"They were, quite simply, assassinated," said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, of the two officers shot in their patrol car Saturday in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Police said the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who shot his ex-girlfriend earlier in the day in Baltimore County, also killed himself.
What We Know So Far
- Two NYPD officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were shot inside their squad car at approximately 2:50 p.m. ET Saturday.
- Police say Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot the two officers, then fled to a subway station and shot himself.
- The shooting occurred in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
- Both police officers are dead, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton confirmed.
- Brinsley also allegedly shot his ex-girlfriend Saturday morning in Baltimore County, Maryland.
- Police union president Patrick Lynch blamed Mayor de Blasio and protesters for the shooting, and a tweet allegedly from a different organization said de Blasio had blood on his hands.
Shaneka Thompson, Ismaaiyl Brinsley's first shooting victim, was released from the University of Maryland Medical Center today.
Thompson is a member of the Air Force Reserves, and reportedly had a brief relationship with Brinsley in the past.
This morning the President phoned New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton to express condolences for the killing of two New York City Police officers and offer support in the coming days and weeks. In their conversation, the President reiterated his call for the American people to reject violence and words that harm, and turn to words that heal – prayer, patient dialogue, and sympathy for the friends and family of the fallen. The President told Commissioner Bratton that his staff would continue to monitor the situation in New York, and that Administration officials would be working with leaders across the country to echo the same message. The President also offered the Commissioner his full support for any possible assistance in the days and weeks ahead.
According to his family, gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley was not involved in radical Islam, but he had a troubled and violent past, NYPD Chief Robert Boyce said on Sunday.
Brinsley came from a Muslim family, but he was estranged from his two sisters and his mother was afraid of him, Boyce said. He had made past suicide attempts, Boyce added, but police were not aware that he had received treatment for mental health issues.
The gun that was used in the shootings was purchased from a pawn shop in 1996 by a person who was not Brinsley, Boyce said. Police were speaking with the registered owner of the gun and attempting to find out how it came to be in Brinsley's hands.
Police on Sunday afternoon were also speaking with his ex-girlfriend, who remained in a hospital under treatment for a gunshot wound. Boyce said it appeared his rampage began after he let himself into her apartment with a key he was not supposed to have.
"She did not want anything to do with him, and that caused the argument," Boyce said.
After shooting her, police believe Brinsley took a bus to New York. He may have been in the city earlier in the week as well.
He spoke with two men immediately before approaching the officers, Boyce said. He asked them their gang affiliation and told them to follow him on Instagram. "Watch what I'm going to do," Brinsley told them.
He then walked past the NYPD officers, circling back to approach them from behind, Boyce said. He shot four times. One minute before the shooting, New York police received a faxed Wanted poster of Brinsley from Baltimore County police.
Ten people witnessed the shooting, Boyce continued, and 35 others heard the four shots. Two utility workers followed Brinsley in their truck as he fled and alerted other police officers, Boyce said. Those officers followed him into a subway station, where he took his own life.
Police are continuing to recreate Brinsley's movements over the past days, as well as account for the hour and 40 minutes before the shooting of the officers. Police also had no more information about any involvement by Brinsley in protests over the death of Eric Garner.
Police are also waiting on search warrants to look at the contents of two iPhones in Brinsley's possession at the time of the crimes.
"We expect pictures," Boyce said.
Police in Baltimore Country, Maryland, have identified the woman Ismaaiyl Brinsley allegedly shot before traveling to Brooklyn and allegedly murdering two NYPD officers.
Shaneka Nicole Thompson, 29, was shot in the abdomen with a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun just before 6 a.m. Saturday, police said.
Thompson, of the Owings Mills neighborhood, remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital. Police say she is expected to survive her injuries.
Baltimore County police said they have been unable to interview her because of her condition. NYPD detectives are also traveling to Baltimore to interview Thompson if her condition improves.
"Based on preliminary information from other sources, police believe that Thompson and Brinsley had a previous romantic relationship, and they believe that relationship dates back less than a year," police said in a statement. "They have no children together, and Thompson lived alone at the Owings Mills apartment complex."
Brinsley has no ties to the Baltimore area apart from Thompson, police said, and there is no indication of him having any prior criminal activity in Maryland.
Brinsley allegedly stole Thompson's phone, allowing police to track his movements to New York City.
I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the families of the two NYPD officers who lost their lives in the line of duty yesterday. Everyone in the law enforcement community and people of good will here in New York and around the country grieves with them. The cowardly murders committed yesterday bring us no closer to a more just society. Violence and its counterpoint, apathy, are the enemies of positive change. Now is the time for meaningful civic engagement and thoughtful, civil discourse. Today is not a time for finger-pointing or blame, which only serves to divide, rather than unite. Police bear a tremendous responsibility to keep neighborhoods safe for those who reside, work, or visit here. On a daily basis, their work saves lives in every community, in every neighborhood. Today, I join all New Yorkers in thanking them, reflecting on their bravery, and their sacrifice.
This message comes with deep sadness. Put the flags at half-mast. Today, two of our officers were shot and killed, with no warning, no provocation, in the 079 Precinct. They were assassinated—targeted for their uniform, and for the responsibility they embraced: to keep the people of this city safe. Police Officer Wenjian Liu and Police Officer Rafael Ramos will be remembered. They will join a line that is too long, a line of partners who served together and made the ultimate sacrifice together: Foster and Laurie, Piagentini and Jones, Reddy and Glover, Cerullo and Masone, Guerzon and Williams, Andrews and Nemorin, Parker and Rafferty, and now Liu and Ramos. We will not forget them, and we will not forget the oath they took—that we all took, too—but for which they died: that we uphold the constitution, and faithfully discharge our duties, to the best of our ability. May God grant Officer Wenjian Liu and Officer Rafael Ramos rest. And to all members of the service, be safe.
Videos on YouTube show the moment NYPD officers told commuters in a subway stop near the scene of the shooting to "get down," after the suspect fled to the station and fatally shot himself.
BuzzFeed News reporter Darren Sands reported Sunday morning from a police precinct near the site of the shooting:
Ramos' 13-year-old son "couldn’t comprehend what had happened to his father," de Blasio said Saturday.
Officials met with the officers' family members after the shooting, de Blasio explained during a Saturday news conference. Later, a widely circulated Facebook post appeared to show the boy grappling with Ramos' death and saying, "Today is the worst day of my life."
President Obama called the two slain officers "brave men" early Sunday morning and asked "people to reject violence and words that harm."
I unconditionally condemn today's murder of two police officers in New York City. Two brave men won't be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification. The officers who serve and protect our communities risk their own safety for ours every single day - and they deserve our respect and gratitude every single day. Tonight, I ask people to reject violence and words that harm, and turn to words that heal - prayer, patient dialogue, and sympathy for the friends and family of the fallen.
The U.S. Attorney based in Brooklyn, Loretta Lynch, who is President Obama's Attorney General nominee, said Saturday in a statement that she was shocked by the shooting, and promised a "complete investigation of this horrific crime."
I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of this afternoon's brutal and senseless attack on two NYPD Officers, and I join Attorney General Holder in expressing my deepest condolences to the families of these fallen heroes.
"I have pledged all of the resources of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York to the NYPD to assist with a complete investigation of this horrific crime.
"Today's assailant struck at the heart of our city -- the dedicated officers who pledge their lives to safeguard us all. Today, two have fallen, in a stark reminder of the challenges and risks that our law enforcement officers face every day, both in New York City and throughout our nation.
"Let us take this time to grieve with their families, and join the NYPD and all New Yorkers in honoring them for their sacrifice.
Images and video from Saturday night showed dozens of police and firefighters saluting silently as an ambulance transported the bodies of Liu and Ramos.
Police traced Ismaaiyl Brinsley from Baltimore County to Brooklyn by tracing his phone and Instagram posts.
According to Baltimore County Police, Brinsley shot a 29-year-old woman in Owings Mills, a community about 20 miles from downtown Baltimore.
The woman was hit in the abdomen and is expected to survive the injury. New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton previously said the woman is believed to be Brinsley's ex-girlfriend.
Police were sent to the Baltimore County shooting at 5:48 a.m. Saturday. Brinsley was already gone when they arrived, but by 1:30 p.m. investigators had discovered his anti-police Instagram posts.
Police managed to trace the location of those posts, as well as Brinsley's phone, to Brooklyn, prompting them to alert the NYPD via a faxed Wanted poster.
"Around 2:50 p.m.," a police statement reveals, "BCoPD sent a teletype with the same information contained in the flyer to NYPD's real-time crime center — essentially, a data warehouse."
Bratton said that the information arrived just as Brinsley was shooting the officers.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, blamed both Mayor de Blasio and protesters for the shootings Saturday.
During a news conference Saturday night, Lynch said that "blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor." He also said there was blood on the hands of "those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protest that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day."
An earlier version of his post incorrectly identified the location of the shooting in Maryland. It happened in Baltimore County, not Baltimore.
Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson called the shootings "senseless acts of violence against two of our city's heroes."
It is with deep sorrow that I join the Mayor, Police Commissioner and all New Yorkers in offering my sincere condolences to the families of Officer Ramos and Officer Liu. As we continue to investigate these senseless acts of violence against two of our city's heroes, we pray for peace, support the men and women who bravely patrol our streets every day, and mourn for the loss of these two police officers who gave their lives to keep us safe.
Dr. Ram Raju, president and CEO of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, also issued a statement Saturday night:
On behalf of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) and Woodhull Medical Center, I want to express our condolences to the families for the terrible tragedy that resulted in the death of two police officers this evening.
I also want to thank the emergency department staff at Woodhull. In spite of their valiant efforts to save them, the police officers succumbed to their injuries.
The NYPD released photos late Saturday of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
Police also released an image of the gun that was found near Brinsley:
A video appeared to show police officers turning their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio as he arrived to a Saturday evening press conference.
Michael Brown's family condemned the shooting in a statement issued late Saturday:
The family of Michael Brown condemns today's senseless killing of two NYPD officers.
We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot be tolerated. We must work together to bring peace to our communities.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officers' families during this incredibly difficult time.
The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association denied releasing a memo Saturday saying Mayor Bill de Blasio's hands were "literally dripping" in blood.
Union Spokesman Al O'Leary told BuzzFeed News that President Patrick Lynch did not make the comment about the mayor's hands "dripping with our blood."
A tweet from an account claiming to belong to the Sergeants Benevolent Organization — which is not part of the PBA — was still online Thursday and included a similar statement laying blame on de Blasio.
Neither the owner of the account nor the the Sergeants Benevolent Association could immediately be reached for comment Saturday night.
This post has been updated with new information, and to more accurately reflect statements provided to BuzzFeed News.
Former New York Governor George Pataki laid blame for the shooting on Attorney General Eric Holder and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton stood solemnly before the press Saturday night and, seemingly fighting back his emotions, described the deaths of two officers: "They were, quite simply, assassinated."
Bratton identified the two officers who were killed as Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. The men were sitting in a marked patrol car Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn, Bratton said, when Ismaaiyl Brinsley walked up to the passenger side and opened fire through the window glass. The officers were struck multiple times.
"Despite every effort to save their lives, both officers tragically succumbed to their injuries," Bratton said.
He went on to describe a tragic timeline leading up to the shooting: Early Saturday morning, a woman "believed to be Brinsley's former girlfriend" was shot and injured in Baltimore County. After that shooting, Brinsley allegedly posted "very anti-police" messages on the woman's Instagram account.
Following that shooting, police in Baltimore issued a wanted notice for Brinsley, but by the time it was received by the NYPD, it was too late.
"The tragedy here is that just as the warning was coming in, the murder was occurring," Bratton said of the Brooklyn shooting. He went on to repeatedly describe the killings as "assassinations."
"A death of this nature, an assassination, it's unlike any other type of emotion," Bratton said, adding that "it's not easy, not easy at all."
After shooting the officers, Brinsley fled into a nearby subway station where he shot himself, Bratton said. Doctors declared him dead at Brooklyn Hospital. A silver, semi-automatic gun was recovered on the subway platform, Bratton said.
Brinsley's motive was still unclear Saturday night. Bratton said Brinsley had expressed anti-police views online, but that an investigation into what prompted the killings was still ongoing. There also was no indication of a connection to a terror plot or organization, Bratton added.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also spoke to reporters Saturday and called the killings a "particularly despicable act, which goes at the very heart of our of society."
He urged the public to alert police if they see any warning signs or threats online that could foreshadow other police killings.
The sadness felt over shooting, he added, was "hard to describe."
"It is an attack on all of us," de Blasio said. "It's an attack on everything we hold dear."
Correction: A union spokesman said that the president did not say what was in the ABC-7 tweet.
On Twitter, the NYPD Sergeants Benevolent Association said Mayor de Blasio had "blood on his hands."
Tonight, the thoughts and prayers of all New Yorkers are with the family and friends of New York City police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were assassinated in the line of duty. This deplorable act of violence is the opposite of what New York is and what New Yorkers believe in. These brave officers, along with the over 34,000 other uniformed men and women of the New York Police Department, put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. They run toward danger when all of our instincts tell us to run away. Tonight, we all come together to mourn the loss of these brave souls.
"Brinsley shot himself to death in a subway station on the G line." —Bratton
"You try to make sense out of it, you really can't" —Bratton
Bratton said the current "anti-police, anti-criminal justice" sentiment "some people get caught up in these sometimes" is part of the investigation.
Police investigating what Brinsley has been doing these last several weeks.
I condemn this afternoon's senseless shooting of two New York City police officers in the strongest possible terms. This was an unspeakable act of barbarism, and I was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of these two brave officers in the line of duty.On behalf of all those who serve in the United States Department of Justice, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the officers' loved ones and colleagues. I will make available all of the resources of the Department to aid the NYPD in investigating this tragedy. This cowardly attack underscores the dangers that are routinely faced by those who protect and serve their fellow citizens. As a nation we must not forget this as we discuss the events of the recent past. These courageous men and women routinely incur tremendous personal risks, and place their lives on the line each and every day, in order to preserve public safety. We are forever in their debt.Our nation must always honor the valor -- and the sacrifices -- of all law enforcement officers with a steadfast commitment to keeping them safe. This means forging closer bonds between officers and the communities they serve, so that public safety is not a cause that is served by a courageous few, but a promise that's fulfilled by police officials and citizens working side by side.
"Motive under investigation. Shooter is from Georgia, by all accounts. No connection to terrorism so far." —Bratton
"Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the shooter identified by NYPD, took a "shooting stance" and fired into the passenger-side window of the police cruiser where both officers sat." —Bratton
Earlier in the day, he shot his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore. Because Brinsley has ties to Brooklyn, Baltimore police warned the NYPD he might be on the way. By the time they got that warning, the officers were dead, Bratton said.
"With no warning, no provocation, they were quite simply assassinated." —Bratton
Bratton's voice is cracking.
Two cops murdered. —Bratton
Here's live video of the NYPD press conference:
Mayor de Blasio will be at the 7:00 p.m. briefing, his office said.
Here are the most recent crime statistics for the 79th precinct, where the shootings occurred. There have been decreases in shootings and murders when compared to 2013.
NYPD Commissioner Bratton will hold a briefing on the shootings at 7:00 p.m. at Woodhull Hospital.
In 1988, NYPD Officer Edward Byrne was shot to death while sitting in his patrol car. It was a planned ambush.
Byrne, a 22-year-old rookie at the time of his death, became a national flashpoint and was once of several reasons that drove the NYPD to change the way it policed the streets. He was guarding the Jamaica, Queens, home of a person scheduled to testify against a drug kingpin when four people surrounded his vehicle in an ambush.
The most recent officer to die by gunfire was Peter Figoski in 2011. The father of four was shot in the face while responding to a burglary in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn.
New York City's second-highest ranking official, Public Advocate Letitia James, says her city is in mourning.
"My deepest thoughts and prayers are with the families of the police officers killed in the line of duty today," she said. "Every day, New York City Police Officers put themselves in harm's way to protect us. Today, the entire city mourns with the NYPD. We will never forget the sacrifice these brave officers made to keep our city safe, and we honor the service of New York's finest."
Rev. Al Sharpton has released a statement:
"I have spoken to the Garner family and we are outraged by the early reports of the police killed in Brooklyn today, Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases.
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. We have been criticized at National Action Network for not allowing rhetoric or chanting of violence and would abruptly denounce it at all of our gatherings. 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.
We plan to hold a press conference in the morning to express our outrage and our condolences to the families and the police department. Details to follow."
Multiple outlets are now reporting the officers have died.
New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has tweeted in response to the shooting:
Two NYPD precincts have tweeted that both officers have now died.
However, the NYPD's central public information office says there is still no update on the officers' condition.
According to multiple media reports, the suspect has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The officers are also said to be in a critical condition.
However, the NYPD has again told BuzzFeed News they are still unable to confirm these reports.