Gunman Ambushes NYC Police Twice in 12 Hours

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
February 9, 2020USshare
Gunman Ambushes NYC Police Twice in 12 Hours
A man, who the NYPD is seeking the public's assistance in identifying in connection to a police involved shooting, walks down a street in New York City, on Feb. 8, 2020. (New York Police Department via AP)

NEW YORK—A gunman is in custody after he ambushed police officers in the Bronx twice in 12 hours, wounding two in attacks that ignited outrage from officials who blamed the violence on an atmosphere of anti-police rhetoric.

The man, whose name was not immediately released, was captured after he walked into a police station in the Bronx and started shooting early Sunday, hitting a lieutenant in the arm and narrowly missing other police personnel before he ran out of bullets, lay down and tossed his pistol, police said.

That attack came just hours after the same man approached a patrol van in the same part of the Bronx and fired at two officers inside, wounding one, police said.

Despite multiple shots fired in both incidents, nobody was killed and all are expected to recover, police said.

“It is only by the grace of God and the heroic actions of those inside the building that took him into custody that we are not talking about police officers murdered inside a New York City police precinct,” New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a press conference Sunday.

New York police stand outside the 41st precinct
New York police stand outside the 41st precinct at the scene of a police involved shooting, in New York, on Feb. 9, 2020. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

Shea called the gunman a “coward” and said he had a lengthy criminal history, including a 2002 shooting and carjacking in which he also fired a gun at police officers. Shea said the man was paroled from prison in 2017 after an attempted murder conviction.

The commissioner also lashed out at criminal justice reform activists who have held demonstrations against excessive force by police in recent months, including a large protest in Grand Central Terminal. He suggested that the protests helped create an anti-police environment.

“These things are not unrelated. We had people marching through the streets of New York City recently,” Shea said. “Words matter. And words affect people’s behavior.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio also suggested that while police had a right to protest, anti-police sentiment had gotten out of hand.

“This was an attempt to assassinate police officers. We need to use that word,” the Democratic mayor said Sunday.

Two security camera videos, posted on social media, captured the shooting inside the headquarters of the 41st Precinct, which happened shortly before 8 a.m.

In one of them, the gunman is seen sauntering into the precinct lobby, before briefly disappearing off screen. Police said the lieutenant who was shot returned fire, but didn’t hit the gunman.

Then, the gunman rushed into a side room and fired at two people there, including a civilian employee, as they fled. He then retreated to the lobby and dove to the floor.

Police shooting suspect
Police said they are still searching for the gunman, however, who was described as a a male between the ages of 20 and 30 with a black hooded sweatshirt and jeans. (NYPD)

In another video from a different angle, an officer in the precinct lobby is seen reacting to the first gunshot. Officers converge, pointing their guns, and the gunman’s pistol is seen sliding away from him across the floor.

The shooting inside the precinct headquarters came just hours after another attack in the same section of the Bronx, involving the same suspect.

Two officers narrowly escaped with their lives when a gunman fired into their patrol van just before 8:30 p.m Saturday.

NYPD officers outside 41st precinct
New York City police officers work the scene of a police involved shooting outside the 41st precinct, in New York City, on Feb. 9, 2020. (John Minchillo/AP Photo)

The two uniformed officers, partners for eight years and friends since middle school, were sitting in their van with emergency lights activated when a man approached them and engaged them in conversation, Shea said.

The man asked the officers for directions, then pulled out a gun “without provocation,” the commissioner said. The man fired multiple shots, grazing the officer behind the wheel in the chin and neck, and narrowly missing an artery.

Neither officer returned fire. The officer’s partner drove him to a hospital nearby and he is expected to be released for the hospital Sunday.

“He is lucky to be alive,” Shea said. “He is expected to make a full recovery and it is a miracle.”

The attacks recalled other unprovoked assaults on police officers sitting in their patrol vehicles.

In 2017, a gunman killed Officer Miosotis Familia as she sat in her patrol vehicle in the Bronx. In 2014, two officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, were shot dead in their patrol car in Brooklyn by a man upset about recent police killings of unarmed black men.

Funeral Held For NYPD Officer Slain While On Duty In The Bronx
Thousands of police officers and their supporters stand outside of a Bronx church during the funeral for NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia in New York City, on July 11, 2017. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The killings of Ramos and Liu had also followed large street protests and some officers blamed de Blasio for expressing solidarity with the demonstrations, and turned their backs on the Democrat at the funerals.

Officers turn back on De Blasio
Hundreds of police officers from across the country turn their backs as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during the funeral of slain New York City Police Officer Wenjian Liu in New York City, on Jan. 4, 2015. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a tweet Sunday he was “horrified by the multiple attacks” on police. “NY’s law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. These attacks are heinous.”

President Donald Trump also reacted to the shootings.

“I grew up in New York City and, over many years, got to watch how GREAT NYC’s ‘Finest’ are. Now, because of weak leadership at Governor & Mayor, stand away (water thrown at them) regulations, and lack of support, our wonderful NYC police are under assault. Stop this now!” he wrote on Twitter.

By Sophia Rosenbaum and Deepti Hajela

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