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Baltimore Police Used Fax To Alert NYPD To Killer Gunman, Minutes Before He Shot Officers

There are questions surrounding a major police department's use of the outdated technology. New York Police Department officials said the faxed wanted poster didn't show up until minutes before Ismaaiyl Brinsley fatally shot two cops.

Posted on December 22, 2014, at 1:15 p.m. ET

UPDATED — 2:21 p.m.

The Baltimore police used fax machines to warn the NYPD about a gunman who soon after killed two officers. Baltimore police said they sent the alert around two minutes before Saturday's ambush.

Facebook: BaltimoreCountyPoliceandFire

The incident revealed several communication breakdowns, namely the confusion about when the fax was sent and received, and the fact that if it were sent digitally, NYPD officers don't have uniform smartphones that could show them the shooter's photo.

Initially, the Baltimore County Police Department (BCoPD) said they faxed the "wanted" flyer to the NYPD at 2:10 p.m. The NYPD said they only received the fax at 2:45 p.m. The BCoPD later released a statement saying they the sent the fax at 2:46 p.m., two minutes before the gunman shot two NYPD officers in Brooklyn.

According to BCoPD's latest press release, the NYPD asked them to send the wanted poster to the 70th Precinct's fax machine after a phone conversation lasting 30 minutes between the two departments.

Here is a timeline leading up to the moment Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.


Officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40.

Saturday, 5:51 a.m.: Baltimore police were dispatched to Owings Mills, Maryland, where Brinsley shot his girlfriend, Shaneka Nicole Thompson.

Thompson told police that Brinsley had shot her in the stomach and stolen her cellphone. Police said they broadcasted the suspect's information to the local law enforcement community.

6:32 a.m.: Baltimore County Police Department started tracking Thompson's cell phone, which Brinsley had. It pinged while he was on the bus to New York.

At 10:24 a.m. BCoPD tracked the phone to the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City. At 12:07 p.m. he left the cell phone near Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where it continued to ping.

About 1:30 p.m.: Thompson's friend notified Baltimore County Police about Brinsley's location and threatening Instagram posts.

The friend told police that Brinsley's Instagram posts contained overt threats to police officers and indicated that Brinsley was in Brooklyn.

The friend told police that Brinsley's Instagram posts contained overt threats to police officers and indicated that Brinsley was in Brooklyn.

About 1:45 p.m.: BCoPD prepared a wanted flyer for distribution to relevant law enforcement agencies – specifically, the NYPD.

About 2:10 p.m.: The Baltimore County police made a phone call to the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn, advising them about a wanted suspect there.

According to the press release, a BCoPD detective from the Violent Crimes Unit made a phone call to the NYPD's 60th Precinct in Brooklyn to advise that a suspect wanted for a shooting that morning might be in New York and had posted threats against police.

The detective was directed to another Brooklyn precinct, the 70th Precinct, because the phone most recently had been tracked to that precinct, the press release said.

The Barclays Center, which is close to where Brinsley was said to have left the cell phone, is under the 78th Precinct's watch. The precincts are about four miles away.

The BCoPD said their detective spoke to the NYPD officer for about 30 minutes during which the NYPD officer viewed Brinsley's threatening Instagram posts, which included his photos. The NYPD officer was provided with "all known details of the situation."

The NYPD then asked BCoPD to send them the wanted flyer — which Baltimore noted contained the same Instagram photos viewed by the NYPD — to the precinct's fax machine.

The NYPD also requested the BCoPD to send a teletype with the relevant information to NYPD's Real Time Crime Center, a date warehouse, the BCoPD said.

About 2:45 p.m.: This is the time that NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said, on Saturday, they received the fax.

About 2:46 p.m.: Baltimore County Police said they faxed the wanted poster of Brinsley to the NYPD as requested by them.

2:46 p.m. or 2:47 p.m.: This is when the NYPD got the Baltimore County Police fax, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Sunday.

About 2:48 p.m.: Brinsley shot officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in their patrol car stationed in the 79th Precinct of Brooklyn's Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood.

Liu and Ramos were assigned to South Brooklyn's 84th Precinct, but were stationed in the 79th Precinct as part of a “critical response” detail.

Approximately 2:49 p.m.: Baltimore County Police sent the teletype containing Brinsley's information to NYPD's Real Time Crime Center, as requested by them.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told NBC News' Matt Lauer Monday that they were going to equip every NYPD officer with a smartphone.

Referring to Baltimore informing the NYPD about Brinsley, Bratton said, "In the event of receiving a notification about an individual such as this, that's now coming into the city as a threat to officers, the ability to get that word out to officers is limited. Radio transmissions, etc. With smart phones we can blast out the picture right away."

In October, authorities announced that they would equip each of NYPD's 35,000 officers with a smartphone, and install 6,000 tablet computers in police cars, as part of the NYPD Mobility Initiative.

The devices would help officers expand their search capabilities, including access to a majority of NYPD databases and have increased "officer safety features," which would provide critical information to the locations to which the officers were responding.

Officers are also to be given email addresses "to improve department communications across the board."

This post has been updated to reflect the new timeline of events released by the Baltimore County Police Department.