U.S. President Barack Obama has condemned the shooting of two New York City police officers at point-blank range in broad daylight as they sat in their car Saturday.
The president, who is vacationing in Hawaii, said « two brave men won’t be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification. »
The two police officers – Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos – were sitting in their police car in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant area when 28-year-old Ismayyil Brinsley walked up to them and opened fire. Afterwards, Brinsley ran to a subway station where he killed himself.
New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said the two men were « quite simply assassinated. » He said Brinsley had made very serious « anti-police » statements online.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder condemned the shooting and called it an « unspeakable act of barbarism. »
Brinsley posted on an Instagram account about taking revenge for the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer in New York.
The shooting of the police officers comes at a time of increased tension in New York and around the U.S. following the decisions by grand juries not to indict white police officers for the killings of unarmed black men.
Brinsley, who killed the police Saturday, was black. The officers were Asian and Hispanic.
Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton said Garner’s family had no connection to the suspect and denounced the violence.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said « the city is in mourning. » He called the incident « an attack on all of us. »
Commissioner Bratton said Brinsley went to the home of a former girlfriend in the Baltimore area in the Atlantic coast state of Maryland and shot and wounded her. Bratton said the Baltimore police noticed Brinsley had posted a threat to New York officers on the woman’s Instagram account. Bratton said Baltimore officials warned New York police who received the alert about the time of the shooting in Brooklyn.
New York Mayor de Blasio and the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Associate, Patrick Lynch, have been locked in a public battle over treatment of officers following the grand jury’s decision there not to indict the officer in the Garner case. 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 when he walked into the hospital where the two slain officers were taken.
Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.