NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Two police officers were “ambushed and murdered” while sitting in their marked patrol car Saturday in Brooklyn, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said.
It happened around 2:47 p.m. at the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Tompkins Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The officers were rushed to Woodhull Hospital, where they died.
“They were, quite simply, assassinated — targeted for their uniform,” Bratton said at a news conference Saturday night.
Authorities said Brinsley then ran into the subway and shot himself in the head. He was taken to Kings County Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
A silver semi-automatic firearm was recovered at the scene.
Emergency Service Unit and police officers swarmed the scene with helmets, machine guns and bulletproof vests.
A witness said she was in a nearby laundromat when she heard shots being fired.
“When I heard the six shots, someone ran into the laundromat and said they had killed two police officers,” she told 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten.
“[I heard] about four or five shots,” another witness told CBS2.
Prior to the shooting, Bratton said Brinsley went to the home of a former girlfriend around 5:45 a.m. Saturday in the Baltimore area and shot and wounded her.
Police there said they noticed Brinsley posting to the woman’s Instagram account about a threat to New York officers.
After the shooting in Baltimore, Bratton said Baltimore authorities sent a wanted flier to the NYPD and other agencies, warning them of Brinsley. Bratton said it was sent at essentially the same time the officers were being ambushed by the suspect.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement she is troubled to learn Brinsley started his crime spree in her community, WNEW’s Heather Curtis reported.
Rawlings-Blake’s deputy chief of staff, Kevin Harris, said the mayor knows there are a few bad apples that have “done some things that do not honor the uniform,” and they need to deal with that.
“But the way in which they do that is not to target law enforcement,” Harris told Curtis.
Bratton said it was also found that the suspect had a connection to East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Brinsley does not appear to have any ties or connections to any terrorist groups, Bratton said.
The NYPD will be working with Baltimore police to find a motive for the murder and what brought Brinsley to New York City, Bratton said.
“It is an attack on all of us. It is an attack on all that we hold dear,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the news conference, alongside Bratton.
De Blasio urged the public to come forward and immediately report any possible attacks against law enforcement.
“Everybody is feeling different things but I don’t think anybody in their right mind called for the death of an officer,” City Councilman Robert Cornegy said.
“People are frustrated with the results of Staten Island and Eric Garner, but I don’t think I know anyone in this community that would agree with taking the lives of an officer,” Cornegy added.
“If you’re mad at somebody, be mad at the person you need to be mad at don’t take two innocent people from their families. Don’t do that,” another witness told 1010 WINS.
Sources tell CBS2 officers are being warned to be aware of their security both on and off the job.
The shooting comes at a tense time.
The president of the police officers’ union, Patrick Lynch, and de Blasio have been locked in a public battle over treatment of officers following a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict an officer in the death of Eric Garner.
Just days ago, Lynch suggested police officers sign a petition that demanded the mayor not attend their funerals should they die on the job.
President Obama condemned the murders in a statement.
“Two brave men won’t be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification. 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,” Obama said in the statement.
Rev. Al Sharpton also released a statement Saturday evening regarding the incident.
“I have spoken to the Garner family and we are outraged by the early reports of the police killed in Brooklyn today. Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases.”
“This is horrible. This is bad for our city. This cannot be endorsed or supported by anyone and the mayor has to step up now. He’s got to show his backbone and make sure the people get the message that we’re not going to have this stupidity take place in our city,” community advocate and founder of Advocates Without Borders Tony Herbert told 1010 WINS.
Sharpton also said in the statement he plans to hold a news conference Sunday morning to “express our outrage and our condolences to the families and the police department.”
The last officer to be shot and killed was 22-year veteran Peter Figoski in December 2011. Figoski was shot in the face by a suspect while responding to a report of a break-in at an apartment in Brooklyn. The convicted gunman, Lamont Pride, was sentenced to 45 years to life in prison.
Stay with CBS New York for more on this developing story.
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