Updated 8:32 a.m. May 5, 2015
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — An NYPD officer died Monday, two days after being shot in the head while sitting in an unmarked squad car in Queens.
Officer Brian Moore, 25, was in a medically induced coma after undergoing surgery shortly after the incident in Queens Village, CBS2’s Diane Macedo reported.
He was removed from life support at 11:15 a.m. Monday, sources said.
“It’s with great regret and sadness that I announce the passing of New York City police Officer Brian Moore … killed in the line of duty,” NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters outside Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.
“In his very brief career, less than five years, he had already proved himself to be an exceptional young officer,” Bratton added. “In that career, he had made over 150 arrests protecting and serving the citizens of this city. He had already received two exceptional police service medals, two meritorious police service medals. We don’t give them out easily. He worked for them. He earned them.”
As CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported, police officers know they have a dangerous job. But that does not make coping with the loss of a colleague any easier.
At the 105th Precinct in Queens Village, where Moore was assigned, purple bunting was set up to represent the heavy grief the officers were experiencing.
Moore’s family also joined hundreds of officers for a solemn processional outside the hospital.
An ambulance carried Moore’s body.
“When we square our shoulders and wipe our tears for Brian and his family, those same police officers are going to turn around, and they’re going to staff radio calls and foot posts, and they’re going to ride on our subways, and they’re going to work those stairwells in our complexes out there,” said Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benovelent Associaton. “They may have sadness in their eyes, but their bravery in their heart.”
Moore came from a police family, Bratton said.
“I did not know this officer in person in life. I’ve only come to know him in death,” Bratton said. “An extraordinary young man. A great loss to his family, a great loss to this department and a great loss to this profession and to this city.”
Watch Bratton’s News Conference:
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday evening said Officer Moore had dreamed of becoming a police officer and serving his city, having seen what his father and uncle had done.
“We lost one of New York’s finest, and that phrase needs to be fully understood this moment,” Mayor de Blasio said. “We lost one of New York’s finest, and that phrase needs to be fully understood at this moment. We lost one of the best amongst us – a young man who was called to do good for others, who served others, who was willing to put his life on the line.”
Watch de Blasio’s News Conference:
Bratton said funeral arrangements are being finalized and that services are expected at the end of the week. Police and Mayor Bill de Blasio were to hold a press briefing later Monday to discuss the investigation.
“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the loss of Police Officer Brian Moore,” de Blasio said in a statement. “For five years, Brian served with distinction and he put his life on the line each day to keep us all safe. On Saturday, he made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the people of New York City.”
“The shooting of Officer Brian Moore over the weekend was a deplorable act of violence that has robbed New York of one of its finest,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “As a member of the NYPD, Officer Moore put the safety of his fellow New Yorkers before his own, and we will remember his service with gratitude and pride. I join with all New Yorkers in mourning his passing and send my deepest condolences to his friends and family.”
President Barack Obama, speaking at Lehman College in the Bronx on Monday, also addressed Moore’s death.
“New York’s Finest lost one of its own today, Officer Brian Moore, who was shot in the line of duty on Saturday night. Passed away earlier today,” Obama said. “He came from a family of police officers. And the family of fellow officers he joined in the NYPD and across the country deserve our gratitude and our prayers not just today but every day. They’ve got a tough job.”
The overwhelming grief weighed down a department still reeling from the deaths of two officers killed in December.
The recent shootings targeting officers have come as the City Council was moving to decriminalize low-level offenses, and as protesters erupted over aggressive police tactics.
In a statement, NYPD Detectives’ Endowment Association President Michael Palladino said: “Thanks to the city council advocating on their behalf, criminals are carrying their guns again because they’ve been emboldened with a warped sense of entitlement. At the same time, active policing has been discouraged or abandoned, leaving cops vulnerable and in danger. As a result, this young courageous cop lost his life.”
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito ignored the union’s angry tone, and said now is a time to mourn Officer Moore together as a city – as one family.
Several police officers also stood at attention Monday afternoon outside Moore’s home in Massapequa, Long Island. They tried to offer some solace to his relatives returning home from the hospital, CBS2’s Dana Tyler reported.
Earlier in the day, shaken neighbors, friends and colleagues of Moore’s put up ribbons and laid flowers at the doorstep of the family home. They told CBS2 they were outraged at his cold-blooded killing.
“I just want justice,” said neighbor Vanessa Lisco.
Moore grew up on the block and came from a family of police officers. His father and uncle were both sergeants in the NYPD.
Moore himself graduated from Plainedge High School in North Massapequa, and joined the NYPD in 2011. He earned several medals, and had 150 arrests in his five-year career.
Elizabeth Zaremba said she has known the Moore family since the day she moved onto the block.
“At least 62 years they’ve been living here. Their family is just unbelievable,” she said. “I’m just heartbroken.”
Zaremba said Moore is the second officer from the block to be killed on duty. She still remembers when Officer Edward Byrne was shot dead in his cruiser in 1988 while guarding a witness.
“If the police can’t protect themselves, what are they do, just let the people kill the police? We don’t have any police left?” she said.
In a show of support for police, more than 1,000 people gathered at Plainedge High School for a vigil on Monday night.
“We don’t ask why, because sometimes questions can’t be answered,” said the Rev. Frank Nelson of Maria Regina Catholic Church. “We can’t understand why. We’re not made of the stuff to understand why tragedies like this happen.”
Children at the rally were dressed in NYPD blue – appropriate as they mourned the man who had always dreamed of wearing the uniform.
“As long as this continues to happen to police officers around the country, we have to stand together,” said retired NYPD Detective Keith Fischer.
Moore was shot in the face by an armed suspect on Saturday evening, while on patrol with partner Officer Erik Jansen, 30.
Investigators alleged that Demetrius Blackwell, 35, fired the shot that killed Moore.
They said officers Moore and Jansen were in an unmarked cruiser and tried to stop a Blackwell after they thought they saw and put a gun in his pants.
Blackwell allegedly opened fire before the officers could get out of their car.
After a 90 minute manhunt, police arrested Blackwell a block away where neighbor said he was trying to blend in with the crowd.
Following an exhaustive search, police recovered the .38 special they believe Blackwell used to fire the deadly shots.
“We have two witnesses who identify Mr. Blackwell running with a firearm directly after the shots,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.
CBS2’s Tony Aiello asked Boyce if he was confident that Blackwell knew he was shooting at NYPD officers. Boyce said he was quite sure.
“One of the things left at the crime scene from our officer was his shield. I’m quite confident. It is a Ford Crown Victoria commonly used by police officers all over the country,” Boyce said. “So yes I am.”
Blackwell, was ordered held without bail Sunday after appearing in Queens Criminal Court. He did not enter a plea to charges of attempted murder.
Following Moore’s death, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said charges against Blackwell will be upgraded to include murder in the first-degree, which, if convicted, carries a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The charges will be taken to a grand jury on Tuesday, Bratton said.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing today of New York City Police Officer Brian Moore who lost his life in the line of duty while protecting and serving our community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Moore’s family and his fellow officers,” Brown said in a statement. “Officer Moore’s death is a stark reminder of the dangers that our police officers face each day and the risks that they take as they carry out their sworn duty to keep our streets safe.”
Prosecutors planned to present the case to a grand jury before Blackwell’s next court appearance Friday.
Blackwell has a long rap sheet. He served five years for attempted murder.
Blackwell’s court-appointed lawyer, David Bart, said his client denied the charges, which also include assault and weapons offenses.
Blackwell, known on the street as “Hellraiser,” has nine previous arrests on his record, including charges of attempted murder, robbery, weapons possession and assault, authorities said. In 2013, he was arrested on attempted grand larceny charges. That same year, he was also charged with assault on a police officer.
“This was nothing more and nothing less than a cold-blooded attempt at an assassination of New York’s finest,” Assistant District Attorney Peter McCormack said.
McCormack said Moore and patrol partner Erik Jansen — both in plain clothes in an unmarked police car — approached Blackwell on a Queens street after seeing him tugging at his waistband around 6:15 p.m. Saturday and asked him, “What are you carrying?”
The officers ordered Blackwell to stop and exchanged words with him. That’s when Blackwell turned, the prosecutor said, and “in a vicious manner, started to fire” — at least two shots.
Jansen was not hit and radioed for help.
Detectives tracked down Blackwell about 90 minutes after the shooting at a home near the scene.
A woman — who would not give her name — told CBS2 she lives at the house where Blackwell was arrested. Immediately after the shooting, she said Blackwell was talking to her on her front yard, acting normal, as if nothing had happened. She said she didn’t know he’d allegedly shot a cop.
“We was standing outside for an hour and a half before they realized that it was him.” she said.
At Moore’s home in Massapequa, Long Island, flowers and blue ribbons lined the doorsteps of Moore’s home Monday afternoon.
Many of his neighbors were too upset to speak. “Senseless,” one woman whispered to WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.
Vincent Pensato was visibly upset at news of the officer’s death.
“It’s tragic. I just heard. I’m crushed,” he said. “We’re all crushed. The whole community’s crushed.
“I’ve got a 24-year-old,” he added. “You think. In the blink of an eye, it’s over. It’s just not fair.”
Moore is the fifth NYPD officer shot since December, and the third to die in the line of duty. Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were killed Dec. 20 when a gunman shot them as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn.
On Jan. 5, plainclothes officers Andrew Dossi and Aliro Pellerano were shot responding to a grocery store robbery in the Bronx. Both of those officers survived.
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