NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — An NYPD officer was shot and killed overnight after being ambushed while sitting in a mobile command unit in the Bronx, authorities said.
The officer, identified as 48-year-old Miosotis Familia, died early Wednesday morning at St. Barnabas Hospital where she was taken in critical condition after being shot in the head, police said.
On Twitter, Police Commissioner James O’Neill said Familia, a 12-year veteran of the force, was “assassinated in an unprovoked attack on cops assigned to keep NYers safe.”
“Keep her family in your prayers,” he said.
Late Wednesday night, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill issued a general administrative message to officers, calling Familia’s slaying “a direct attack on police officers assigned to safeguard the people of New York City.
“Make no mistake: Officer Familia was murdered for her uniform and for the responsibility she embraced. And for the NYPD, regularly achieving lower crime figures means absolutely nothing when one of our own is brutally shot and killed,” O’Neill said in the memo. “I know that our profession can sometimes seem thankless. And when a tragedy like this occurs, it can feel like you are facing the burden alone. But you’re not. The NYPD is a family, and we have trained members available around the clock who will listen and connect you with even more help, if needed.”
Fellow officers saluted as her body was taken from the hospital to the New York City Medical Examiner’s office in Manhattan.
As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, family members also gathered late Wednesday in Fordham, the Bronx to hear words of prayer and comfort from community leaders at a prayer vigil. It was a sorrowful gathering for a life lost.
“No officer should ever be ambushed trying to do his or her job,” a woman said at the vigil. “Officer Familia, she has done for us more than we will ever acknowledge.”
The community tied to help Familia’s family cope with their tragic loss.
“He took the life of a person that was such a beautiful person, without even knowing that she was a beautiful person,” said former coworker Jay Rodriguez. “It’s senseless.”
In a statement, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said Familia, a mother of three, “gave her life protecting a neighborhood that had been plagued by gang gun violence.”
“Police Officer Familia now joins the exclusive ranks of women who have heroically served and died in the line of duty,” Lynch said. “We will keep her in our hearts and minds as we do all of the women and men who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the city they loved.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the “horrific and senseless assassination is a devastating reminder of the risks these brave men and women face each day.”
“I offer my deepest condolences to Officer Familia’s loved ones and fellow members of the NYPD,” the governor said in a statement. “Today, we all come together to mourn one of New York’s Finest.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the killing “a cowardly, unprovoked attack.”
“This murder in cold blood is a tragedy, and sadly it is the latest in a troubling series of attacks on police officers over the past two years,” Sessions said. “These attacks must stop and we must honor the service of every law enforcement officer and the memory of those we have lost in the line of duty.”
As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, the attack happened around 12:30 a.m. as Officer Familia was sitting in a mobile command unit with her partner at East 183rd Street and Morris Avenue.
Familia was just starting her midnight shift to guard one of the most gang- and crime-ridden areas of the Bronx.
Police said the suspect, identified as 34-year old Alexander John Bonds of the Bronx, was seen on surveillance video leaving a nearby bodega and putting a hoodie over his head moments before.
He then walked up to vehicle and fired through the window at close range, shooting Familia who was sitting in the passenger seat, police said.
Her partner quickly radioed for help.
“Shots fired! 10-85!” Familia’s partner can be heard screaming in radio transmissions. “My partner’s shot! My partner’s shot!”
Another anti-crime unit happened to be in the area as Bonds was running from the scene. They confronted him and police said the suspect drew a revolver. That’s when officers opened fire, striking and killing him.
Police said another person, believed to be a bystander, was also hit by a bullet. That person was hospitalized with a condition reported to be stable.
“A lot of confusion and a lot of cops. About 30 cops running back and forth,” a witness told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern. “I heard two gunshots, and next thing I know I see a cop on the ground. I don’t know if those two gunshots — I don’t know if the cop got shot or the suspect.”
“The police protect us here. I’m not American, I’m from Africa and I appreciate what the cops do for everybody in the neighborhood,” another resident added. “Why would somebody do that? And then I’m coming home, I saw these officers — I had to go to work, but I said I’m going to sit here with them and see what goes on. So I’m very sad that this happened.”
Many witnesses said all the gunfire sounded to them like Fourth of July fireworks. It was only later that they learned an officer, dedicated to helping them, had died.
“Why did this have to happen while everybody was having a good time yesterday?” said Darnell Cobb of Fordham, the Bronx.
“Heartbreaking, because I have kids myself, so I can imagine how those kids are going to feel,” said Natalie Gonzalez of Fordham, the Bronx.
The NYPD released a photo of the revolver they say Bonds was carrying that was recovered at the scene. The gun was stolen in 2012 in West Virginia.
Video from the scene also showed a bullet hole in the window of the mobile command unit.
The unit has been in the area for the last few months because of crime and gang activity, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported. It was not bullet proof, but the NYPD is in the process of installing bullet proof windows and door panels in all of its marked and unmarked patrol cars.
More than 200 patrol cars already have bullet resistant materials. But retired NYPD Detective Sgt. Joe Giacalone said this tragedy may force the NYPD to install bullet resistant materials on more department vehicles sooner than planned.
“We have this echnology that can keep cops safe with the bullet resistant doors and glass. You know, the city and the mayor put on a show. Where are they?” Giacalone said. “And common sense is going to dictate those are the vehicles that should receive priority fitting for this upgrade.”
Bonds, who also went by the name John Bonds, was first arrested in 2001 at age 15 when he and four others allegedly attacked a police officer with brass knuckles. He then had numerous arrests for drug sales, possession and turnstile jumping.
He was convicted in 2006 of robbery in Syracuse. After being released, he violated parole and was sent back to prison and was rereleased in 2015.
Since then, he’s received numerous summonses for public urination, open container and turnstile jumping.
Investigators also believe Bonds has some sort of affiliation with the notorious gang the Bloods.
In a video posted on Facebook in September, he ranted about the treatment of civilians by officers and talks about how hard life was behind bars. The photos of Bonds posted on the page match a police mugshot.
“Don’t think every brother, cousin, uncle you got that get killed in jail is because of a blood or crip or Latin King killing them. Nah, police be killing them and saying that an inmate killed them,” he said in the video.
At another point, he said into the camera: “I’m not playing, Mr. Officer. I don’t care about 100 police watching this.” And: “It’s time for people to rise up.”
Aside from the police rant, Bonds’ Facebook page mostly consisted of inspirational quotes and quizzes.
Detectives have been in out of the three-story home that was Bonds’ last known residence, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported. Neighbors on the block say they’re worried.
“I was shocked,” one neighbor said. “That’s really bad and now I’m scared to live here.”
It’s still not clear what led to the attack. The investigation is ongoing.
Jenna Johnson told CBS2 she has known Bonds since childhood. She said that he leaves behind a daughter, and that what happened shocked her.
“He’s a family man. He was trying to change his life. He changed his life,” Johnson said. “He was doing things. He was trying to go places. We had plans to go to Puerto Rico.”
Meanwhile, Familia is just the second female member of the NYPD killed in the line of duty, not including the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The first was Transit Officer Irma Lozada. In 1984, she was murdered by a robbery suspect after a chase. The killer grabbed Lozada’s gun and shot her in the face as she tried to arrest him.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)