A GUNMAN who ambushed and killed two New York police officers had earlier shot his former girlfriend and written online about “putting wings on pigs”.
Police commissioner Bill Bratton choked up at a news conference yesterday as he talked about the fatal shootings of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn.
Mr Bratton said Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and wounded his former girlfriend in Baltimore on Saturday and put posts on her Instagram account.
Mr Bratton did not specify the contents of the posts, but two officials said Brinsley had posted about shooting two “pigs” in retaliation for the police chokehold death of Eric Garner.
Brinsley fatally shot himself after killing the officers.
According to the officials, Brinsley, 28, wrote on an Instagram account: “I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let’s take 2 of theirs.”
Police said Brinsley had approached the passenger window of a patrol car and opened fire, striking the officers in the head. “They were, quite simply, assassinated – targeted for their uniform,” Mr Bratton said.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN
• Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning
The sudden and extraordinary violence stunned the city, prompted a response from president Barack Obama and escalated weeks of simmering ill-will between police and their critics, following grand jury decisions not to indict officers over the deaths of Mr Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Missouri. Mr Garner and Mr Brown were black and the officers who killed them are white.
Demonstrators around the US have staged protests following the grand jury decisions.
The New York police union head declared there was “blood on the hands” of protesters and the city’s mayor, who spoke out after Mr Garner’s death.
Brinsley took off running after the shooting. Officers chased him down to a nearby subway station, where he shot himself in the head as a door of a subway train full of people closed. A silver handgun was recovered at the scene.
“This may be my final post,” he wrote in the post that included an image of a silver handgun. The post had more than 200 likes, but also had many others criticising his statements.
The Rev Al Sharpton said Mr Garner’s family had no connection to Brinsley and denounced the violence. “We have stressed at every rally and march that anyone engaged in any violence is an enemy to the pursuit of justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown,” he said.
Mr Brown’s family condemned the shooting in a statement posted online by their lawyer.
“We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot be tolerated. We must work together to bring peace to our communities,” the family said.
Mr Bratton said police were investigating whether Brinsley had attended any rallies or demonstrations. The officers were Asian and Hispanic, while Brinsley was black, police confirmed.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “Our city is in mourning. Our hearts are heavy. It is an attack on all of us.”
US Attorney General Eric Holder condemned the shooting deaths as senseless and “an unspeakable act of barbarism”.
Mr Obama, who is on holiday in Hawaii, issued a statement urging people to reject violence. It said: “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.”
Mr Ramos was married with a 13-year-old son and had another in college. Mr Liu got married two months ago.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS