Two New York City police officers were shot and wounded half a mile apart on Saturday night and Sunday morning, in what officials are calling “assassination” attempts.
Police say that a suspect walked into the 41st precinct in New York City’s Bronx borough just before 8 a.m. and shot and wounded an officer. The shooting occurred less than 12 hours after another officer was wounded in a shooting that Commissioner Dermot Shea characterized as an “assassination attempt” against police officers in a press conference held on Saturday night.
The first shooting unfolded at around 8:30 p.m. Saturday evening, when a 20 to 30-year-old man in a dark jacket is believed to have approached two officers sitting in a police van and asked for directions, Shea said. The man pulled out a gun, and the officer behind the steering wheel quickly put the van into drive and pull away. The suspect shot at the vehicle multiple times, striking the officer behind the steering wheel at least once. The officers did not shoot at the suspect.
The officer was struck in the chin and the neck, with the bullet nearly striking his carotid artery, Shea said. The officer’s partner was able to help transport him to the hospital, and the wounded officer is expected to be released from the hospital on Sunday.
“It is a miracle that we are not here under worse circumstances,” Shea said on Saturday evening.
The next morning, at around 7:56 a.m., a suspect walked into the 41st precinct and shot another officer, Public Information Officer Det. Hubert Reyes told TIME. The officer is in stable condition, Reyes says.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter that the suspect has been taken into police custody.
“This vicious assassination attempt is the second one we’ve seen in 24 hours — and an attack on our NYPD officers is an attack on ALL New Yorkers. This despicable hatred is an attempt to divide our city and undermine our safety. We cannot and will not let that happen,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter.
Before the second shooting, de Blasio told reporters at the press conference that the attack on officers was “absolutely unacceptable,” noting that they put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public.
“I have to say there is just too much hatred out there right now. There’s too much hatred in general, and there’s too much hatred being directed at our officers. And it has to end,” de Blasio said.
Shea said that the officers targeted in the first shooting had been sent to the area because of recent reports about violence and drug crime in the area.
The shootings occurred amid heightened tensions about the role of police in New York City. On Jan. 31, protesters disrupted subway stations across the city to protest fares and the police presence in the transit system. More than a dozen people were reportedly arrested. Reports said that at least some of the protesters vandalized the subway stations, including by pouring glue in the turnstiles. In November, hundreds of people gathered in Brooklyn to protest alleged police brutality, WABC News reported.
President Donald Trump, who spent much of his life in New York City, blamed New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, and de Blasio for leaving the police vulnerable.
“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!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Just last week, President Trump criticized New York City’s leadership for failing to keep the city safe in his State of the Union address. He blamed the City’s “sanctuary” policies, which minimize the police’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
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