(NEW YORK) — Community leaders and family members gathered in Brooklyn Sunday night for a memorial service to remember the two NYPD officers who were shot point-blank and killed in their patrol car Saturday afternoon while patrolling Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot point-blank and killed while sitting in their parked patrol car.
New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said Officers Liu and Ramos were sitting in their vehicle shortly before 3 p.m. when a man approached the car on the passenger side, took a “shooter’s stance” and opened fire.
Liu and Ramos may have not even seen the gunman before they were shot, Bratton said.
“Officer Liu and Officer Ramos never had the opportunity to draw their weapons,” Bratton said. “They may never have actually seen their assailant, their murderer.”
Police said the suspect — identified by police as Ismaayil Brinsley, 28 — then ran to a nearby subway entrance, with cops in pursuit, the commissioner said.
Brinsley went down into the subway and ran onto the platform, where he shot himself in the head, killing himself, Bratton said.
Police believe Brinsley shot his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore earlier in the day, and then posted “anti-police postings” on her Instagram account, the police commissioner said.
Police in Baltimore alerted the NYPD about Brinsley after finding the post and seeing that his phone pinged from Brooklyn, but their message arrived about the same time the shootings occurred, Bratton said.
Authorities say Brinsley traveled to New York by Bolt Bus, a discounted fare coach.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Sunday that moments before Brinsley shot and killed the two officers, he told bystanders to “watch what I’m going to do.”
Liu, 32, had gotten married just two months ago. Ramos, who had just turned 40, was a police officer for two years, fulfilling what Bratton said was a lifelong dream of being a cop. Before joining the NYPD he had been a school safety officer.
Brinsley has 19 prior arrests in his criminal history in the states of Georgia and Ohio. He also had what family described as “undiagnosed mental problems.” His estranged mother said he had a troubled childhood, was violent, and she told police she “feared him.”
President Obama released a statement Saturday condemning the killing of the two officers. “Two brave men won’t be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification,” the president’s statement read.
“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 statement concluded.
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