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Two Cops Killed In Brooklyn; Fleeing Suspect Kills Himself


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Two police officers were shot and killed in Brooklyn, New York yesterday. The suspect then killed himself on a nearby subway platform. He had posted messages online vowing to shoot police officers in retaliation for the death of Eric Garner, who died at the hands of police this past summer.

New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton described the killings in blunt terms.


POLICE COMMISSIONER BILL BRATTON: They were, quite simply, assassinated, targeted for their uniform and for the responsibility in they embraced to keep the people of this city safe.

MARTIN: Robert Lewis of member station WNYC joins us now. Robert, what more do we know about what happened?

ROBERT LEWIS, BYLINE: Well, shortly before 3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, two officers were sitting in a marked vehicle - two officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. And they were in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. And they were just sitting in their car. And apparently a man walked up, and without saying a word, fired multiple shots through the passenger window striking both officers in the head.

He then ran into a nearby subway station. Some other officers, who had been nearby, chased. And once he got to the subway platform, apparently he turned the gun on himself and killed himself.

MARTIN: Do we know anything more about him, the shooter?

LEWIS: We know a bit. He's been identified as a 28-year-old man named Ismaaiyl Brinsley. He's moved around some. He had lived in Atlanta for a time. He also had ties to Baltimore. And authorities actually believed that he had been in Baltimore that morning, shot his ex-girlfriend in the stomach.

Baltimore County police were investigating that and noticed those social media postings where he was threatening cops, believed he was on his way to New York. And maybe one of the saddest things about this, they actually sent a fax to the NYPD basically warning them to be on the lookout for this guy. That fax came through pretty much at exactly the same time that he was apparently murdering these two officers.

MARTIN: How has the law enforcement community in New York responded?

LEWIS: Well, they've, as you might imagine, been pretty upset. The police union Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president, last night outside the hospital after the mayor and police commissioner spoke, gave a really fiery comment to the press. There's been a lot going on, obviously, in the city for the last few weeks and really months after the death of an unarmed man on Staten Island.

There's been a lot of protests over the last few weeks after a grand jury decided not to indict the officer. The union president has basically called out the mayor in the past for not supporting the police. And last night, he said that a lot of people have blood on their hands for inciting violence. And he said that starts at the mayor's office.

MARTIN: Robert Lewis with member station WNYC in New York. Thanks so much, Robert.

LEWIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.