Gunman Vowed Revenge Killing of Police 12/21 07:44
NEW YORK (AP) -- A gunman who vowed online to shoot two "pigs" in
retaliation for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner ambushed two New York
City officers in a patrol car and fatally shot them in broad daylight before
running to a subway station and killing himself, authorities said.
Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, wrote on an Instagram account before Saturday's
shootings: "I'm putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let's take 2
of theirs," two city officials with direct knowledge of the case confirmed for
The Associated Press. He used the hashtags Shootthepolice RIPErivGardner (sic)
The officials, a senior city official and a law enforcement official, were
not authorized to speak publicly on the topic and spoke on condition of
Police said Brinsley approached the passenger window of a marked police car
and opened fire, striking Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in the head.
The officers were on special patrol doing crime reduction work in the
Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.
"They were, quite simply, assassinated --- targeted for their uniform," said
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who looked pale and shaken at a hospital news
The sudden and extraordinary violence stunned the city, prompted a response
from vacationing President Barack Obama and escalated weeks of simmering ill
will between police and their critics following grand jury decisions not to
indict officers in the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in
Missouri. Garner and Brown were black; the officers involved were white.
Demonstrators around the country have staged die-ins and other protests
following the grand jury decisions. The New York police union head declared
there's "blood on the hands" of protesters and the city's mayor.
Brinsley took off running after the shooting. Officers chased him down to a
nearby subway station, where he shot himself in the head as a subway train door
full of people closed. A silver handgun was recovered at the scene, Bratton
"This may be my final post," Brinsley wrote in the post that included an
image of a silver handgun. The post had more than 200 likes but also had many
others admonishing his statements.
Bratton said the suspect made very serious "anti-police" statements online
but did not get into specifics of the posts.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said Garner's family has no connection to the suspect
and denounced the violence.
"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," he said.
Brown's family condemned the shooting in a statement posted online by their
"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," the family said.
Most of the protests have been peaceful, particularly in New York. Bratton
said police were investigating whether Brinsley had attended any rallies or
demonstrations and why he had chosen to kill the officers.
Brinsley was black; the officers were Asian and Hispanic, police said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the killings of Ramos and Liu strike at the heart
of the city.
"Our city is in mourning. Our hearts are heavy," said de Blasio, who spoke
softly with moist eyes. "It is an attack on all of us."
Scores of officers in uniform lined up three rows deep at the hospital
driveway. The line stretched into the street. Officers raised their hands in a
silent salute as two ambulances bore away the slain officers' bodies. The mayor
ordered flags at half-staff.
In a statement Saturday night, Attorney General Eric Holder condemned the
shooting deaths as senseless and "an unspeakable act of barbarism." Obama,
vacationing in Hawaii, issued a statement saying he unconditionally condemns
"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," Obama said. "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 tragedy ended a bizarre route for Brinsley that began in Maryland early
Saturday. He went to the home of a former girlfriend in a Baltimore suburb and
shot and wounded her. Police there said they noticed Brinsley posting from the
woman's Instagram account threats to kill New York officers.
Baltimore-area officials sent a warning to New York City police, who
received it moments too late, Bratton said.
But the posts were apparently online for hours, though it's not clear if
anyone reported them. Bratton called on New Yorkers to alert authorities of any
threats to police they see --- even if they don't seem real. "That information
must get into the hands of the police officers," he said.
Brinsley had a history of arrests in Georgia for robbery, disorderly conduct
and carrying a concealed weapon. Bratton said his last-known address was in
Georgia, but he had some ties to Brooklyn.
Meanwhile, the department grieved the sudden and violent loss of the
"Both officers paid the ultimate sacrifice today while protecting the
communities they serve," Bratton said Saturday night.
Ramos was married with a 13-year-old son and had another in college, police
and a friend said. He had been on the job since 2012 and was a school safety
officer. Liu had been on the job for seven years and got married two months ago.
Rosie Orengo, a friend of Ramos, said he was heavily involved in their
church and encouraged others in their marriages.
"He was an amazing man. He was the best father and husband and friend," she
said. "Our peace is knowing that he's OK, and we'll see him in heaven."
De Blasio and the president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association,
Patrick Lynch, have been locked in a public battle over treatment of officers
following the grand jury's decision. Just days ago, Lynch suggested police
officers sign a petition that demanded the mayor not attend their funerals
should they die on the job. On Saturday, some officers turned their backs on de
Blasio as he walked into the hospital.
"That blood on the hands starts at the steps of City Hall, in the office of
the mayor," Lynch said. "After the funerals, those responsible will be called
on the carpet and held accountable."
The last shooting death of a New York City officer came in December 2011,
when 22-year veteran Peter Figoski was shot in the face while responding to a
report of a break-in at a Brooklyn apartment. The triggerman, Lamont Pride, was
convicted of murder and sentenced in 2013 to 45 years to life in prison.