NEW YORK—A man who posted anti-police rantings on the Internet ambushed and shot to death two New York City police officers at they sat in their patrol car Saturday, authorities said.
“Two of New York’s finest were shot and killed with no warning, no provocation,” Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said. “They were quite simply assassinated—targeted for their uniform.”
The officers were identified as Rafael Ramos, 40, who was married with a 13-year-old son, and Wenjin Liu, who was married a few months ago.
Bratton, speaking at a news conference Saturday night, said the gunman took a shooting stance on the passenger’s side of the patrol car and fired several times, striking both officers in the head.
The gunman fled to a subway station and shot himself in the head, Bratton said. He was taken to a Brooklyn hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The man also shot and seriously wounded his girlfriend in Baltimore County, Md., on Saturday morning, Bratton said. County detectives received information from the victim’s family that the man had associations in Brooklyn and could be going there. Maryland authorities sent a wanted flier about the man to New York at 2:45.
“Tragically, this was essentially at the same time that our officers were being ambushed and murdered,” Bratton said.
The shooting, which occurred around 2:50 p.m. outside a housing project, comes amid heightened tension between New York police and activists who have held nearly nightly marches to protest what they say is police brutality.
The marches began in July after the death of an unarmed man, Eric Garner, following an altercation with Staten Island police officers.
A grand jury declined to indict the officer involved, who was accused of using a banned chokehold on Garner.
Last month, more protests erupted after a police officer fatally shot Akai Gurley, an unarmed man, in a stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. Police said the shooting was an accident.
Tension between New York police and protesters crested last week when officials say two officers were attacked by protesters marching across the Brooklyn Bridge. One of the officers suffered a broken nose. Four people so far have been arrested in connection with the incident and face charges ranging from assault to rioting. More people are being sought.
The last officer shot to death on duty in New York was Peter J. Figoski, who died in December 2011. Earlier this year, Officer Dennis Guerra died of injuries suffered while responding to a fire.
(Panzar reported from Los Angeles, and Susman reported from New York.)
©2014 Los Angeles Times
Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC