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New York reeling after policemen shot dead in their car before gunman shoots himself

The man posted online that he was planning to kill two police officers in retaliation for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner.

Updated 7.15pm

NYPD Officers Shot Mourners stand at attention as the bodies of two fallen NYPD police officers are transported from Woodhull Medical Center. Source: AP/Press Association Images

A GUNMAN WITH an apparent grudge “assassinated” two uniformed New York police officers in a cold-blooded attack on their patrol car that followed weeks of outrage over police killings of unarmed black men.

The two officers, one a newlywed, were shot in the head through the window of their vehicle in broad daylight in Brooklyn in an attack that left America’s biggest city reeling just days before Christmas.

The shooter said online he was planning to shoot two “pigs” in retaliation for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner ambushed two officers in a patrol car and shot them to death in broad daylight yesterday before running to a subway station and killing himself, authorities said.

The suspect, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, wrote on an Instagram account:

“I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs.”

He used the hashtags Shootthepolice RIPErivGardner (sic) RIPMikeBrown.

USA Today reports that earlier on Saturday, Brinsley shot his former girlfriend, injuring her.

On patrol

Police said he approached the passenger window of a marked police car and opened fire, striking Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in the head. The New York Police Department officers were on special patrol doing crime reduction work in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.

21cops-combo-blog480 Rafael Ramos, 40, left, and Wenjian Liu, 32. Source: AP/New York Police Department

“They were, quite simply, assassinated — targeted for their uniform,” said Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who looked pale and shaken at a hospital news conference.

Brinsley took off running as officers pursued him down to a nearby subway station, where he shot himself in the head. A silver handgun was recovered at the scene, Bratton said.

“This may be my final post,” Brinsley wrote in the Instagram post that included an image of a silver handgun. The post had more than 200 likes.

NYPD Officers Shot Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, speaks during a news conference. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Bratton confirmed that the suspect made very serious “anti-police” statements online but did not get into specifics of the posts. He said they were trying to figure out why Brinsley had chosen to kill the officers.

NYPD Officers Shot This photo provided by the New York Police Department shows the weapon the suspect used to killed NYPD police officers. Source: AP

Two city officials with direct knowledge of the case confirmed the posts to The Associated Press. The officials, a senior city official and a law enforcement official, were not authorised to speak publicly on the topic and spoke on condition of anonymity.

NYPD Officers Shot Source: AP/Press Association Images

The shootings come at a tense time.

Eric Garner 

Police in New York and nationwide are being criticised for their tactics, following the July death of Garner, who was stopped on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. Amateur video captured an officer wrapping his arm around Garner’s neck and wrestling him to the ground. Garner was heard gasping, “I can’t breathe” before he lost consciousness and later died.

Demonstrators around the country have staged die-ins and other protests since a grand jury decided 3 December not to indict the officer in Garner’s death, a decision that closely followed a Missouri grand jury’s refusal to indict a white officer in the fatal shooting of Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.

Bratton said they were investigating whether the suspect had attended any rallies or demonstrations.

Killings By Police March Film director Spike Lee, and others, march on Pennsylvania Avenue toward Capitol Hill in Washington. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Brinsley was black; the officers were Asian and Hispanic, police said.

The Reverand Al Sharpton said Garner’s family had no connection to the suspect and denounced the violence.

“Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases,” Sharpton said.

NYPD Officers Shot Mourners gather before the bodies of two fallen NYPD police officers are transported from Woodhull Medical Center. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Brown’s family also released a statement condemning the shooting. “We must work together to bring peace to our communities,” the statement says.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officers’ families during this incredibly difficult time.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said the killing of the officers in the nation’s largest department strikes 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.

Silent salute 

Scores of officers in uniform lined up three rows deep lined the hospital driveway and stretched into the street, their hands raised in a silent salute, as two ambulances bore the slain officers’ bodies away. 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.” President Barack Obama, in a statement issued while he’s vacationing in Hawaii, said he unconditionally condemns the slayings.

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.

Early Saturday, Bratton said, Brinsley went to the home of a former girlfriend in the Baltimore area and shot and wounded her. Police there said they noticed Brinsley posting to the woman’s Instagram account about a threat to New York officers. Baltimore-area officials sent a warning to New York City police, who received it around the time of the shooting, Bratton said.

Criminal records show Brinsley has a history of arrests on various charges in Georgia, including robbery, shoplifting, carrying a concealed weapon, disorderly conduct and obstruction of a law enforcement officer. Bratton said his last-known address was Georgia, but he had some ties in Brooklyn.

A block from the shooting site, a line of about eight police officers stood with a German shepherd blocking the taped-off street. Officer Ramos was married with a 13-year-old son, police said. He had been on the job since 2012. Liu had been on the job for seven years and got married two months ago, Bratton said.

New York is reeling

NYPD Officers Shot Source: AP/Press Association Images

New York was reeling after the murder. By today, candles and flowers had piled up at an impromptu memorial at the scene of the shooting.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and police chief Bratton somberly attended a mass at Saint Patrick’s cathedral in New York led by Cardinal Tim Dolan.

But the double-killing, in a city where murders are at their lowest rates in 20 years, further strained the already fraught relations between de Blasio and police.

A number of officers, in apparent homage to their slain colleagues, turned their backs to the mayor at the hospital Saturday night.

Police officers accuse de Blasio of failing to support them and of being too sympathetic to demonstrators who, in recent weeks, have been protesting police violence against African-Americans.

“Mayor de Blasio… the blood of these two officers is clearly on your hands,” said Edward Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association of some 11,000 active or retired New York police officers.

Earlier this month, there was even an online petition in which police asked the mayor not to attend their funerals if they died in the line of duty.

The former Republican governor of New York, George Pataki, also condemned “these barbaric acts,” which he said were the “predictable outcome of divisive anti-cop rhetoric of #ericholder & #mayordeblasio #NYPD.” Holder is the US attorney general.

De Blasio responded, calling it “unfortunate that in a time of great tragedy, some would resort to irresponsible, overheated rhetoric that angers and divides people.”

And a number of voices called for calm and for unity, including President Barack Obama, who “unconditionally” condemned the killing, and called on Americans “to reject violence and words that harm, and turn to words that heal.”

- Additional reporting - © AFP, 2014

Read: Police and demonstrators clash as US protests continue for a second night

Read: ‘Centuries of racism is being confronted in America’>

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