A gunman shot and killed two New York Police officers moments after posting a status on Instagram about getting revenge over the police chokehold death of an unarmed black man.
Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, opened fire on Rafael Ramos, 40, and Wenjian Liu, 32, from the passenger side of a squad car with a silver semi-automatic handgun.
He then ran to a nearby subway station where he shot himself in the head, police officials said.
Moments before the two deaths, Brinsley posted on Instagram saying: ‘I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today. They take 1 Of Ours…… Let’s Take 2 of Theirs’.
It is believed the deaths were in retaliation to the death of Eric Garner who died while being arrested by police.
One of his victims, Liu, had been married for just two months while Ramos had a 13-year-old son.
The officers were killed without warning and at close range as they sat in their squad car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Police Commissioner William Bratton told a news conference, flanked by de Blasio.
‘Although we’re still learning the details, it’s clear that this was an assassination, that these officers were shot execution style,’ said de Blasio.
The killings were the first time New York City police officers have been killed by gunfire since 2011 and sparked bitter anger among some police against de Blasio, who they see as not supportive enough in the face of public anger.
The mayor has had a prickly relationship with law enforcement as he tries to balance regard for civil liberties with police concerns.
Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association that is the country’s largest municipal police union, said, ‘There’s blood on many hands tonight.’
‘Those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protest, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day,’ he told a news conference. ‘That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor.’
The post on Instagram included hashtags for Eric Garner and for Michael Brown, the teenager who was shot dead in August in Ferguson.
Instagram said the account attributed to Brinsley had been deleted.
Bratton was asked whether there was a link between Brinsley and the weeks of protests over law enforcement, and said this was under investigation.
He added: ‘There has been … a very strong anti-police, anti-criminal justice system, anti-societal set of initiatives under way and one of the unfortunate aspects sometimes is some people get caught up in these and go in directions they should not.’
He said police would investigate whether Brinsley had been part of protests in New York and in Atlanta, his last place of residence, over the Brown and Garner killings.