Twice in 12 hours, a single gunman terrorized the New York Police Department, firing on and wounding uniformed officers stationed in the Bronx in separate attacks that officials have condemned as "attempted assassinations."
One officer was shot in the neck and chin Saturday night when the suspected gunman fired several rounds into a marked police van and then fled, authorities said. At 7 Sunday morning, police say the same man walked into the Bronx precinct headquarters and opened fire again, hitting a lieutenant in the arm and surrendering after his 9-millimeter handgun ran out of bullets.
The suspect, who is in police custody but has not been identified, has a "lengthy violent criminal history," Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said at a news conference Sunday. The man was paroled in 2017 after serving more than a decade in prison on an attempted murder charge, Shea said.
The commissioner called the gunman a "coward," linking the shootings to what he characterized as anti-law-enforcement rhetoric at a demonstration this month that drew hundreds to Grand Central Terminal.
"Words matter," Shea said. "By the grace of God we're not planning a funeral."
The attacks were a grim reminder of other shootings in the city that officers did not survive, the commissioner said.
In a statement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, vowed to hold the shooter accountable to the "fullest extent of the law." Forcefully placing his support behind the NYPD, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the shootings were meant to "divide" the city.
"This was an attempt to assassinate police officers. We need to use that word because it was a premeditated effort to kill," de Blasio said. "And not just to kill other human beings but to kill those who wear a uniform that represents all of us."
Both wounded officers were treated at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx and are expected to fully recover from their injuries. The officer shot in the van was discharged from the hospital Sunday afternoon and sent home by a crowd of cheering colleagues in uniform.