NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police on Friday stepped up security around mosques across New York State in wake of the mass shootings that killed nearly 50 people in New Zealand.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed State Police to increase patrols near houses of worship, saying in a statement, “At a time of great division, we will stand up to hate in all its forms and do everything in our power to protect the safety and well-being of all New Yorkers.”
“My heart breaks for the victims of the horrific attack in New Zealand. And we grieve with the rest of the world. In the wake of this disgusting act of bigoted violence, which appears to be rooted in Islamophobia, New York stands with the Muslim community as we always have and always will,” the statement read in part.
The NYPD also deployed extra officers to mosques throughout the city during early morning prayer services.
WEB EXTRA – Commissioner O’Neill Addresses Increased Security Measures Around New York:
“Very quickly we identified that we’re going to have to increase police presence around mosques, around houses of worship,” said NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counter-terrorism John Miller. “We’re going to have to have roving patrols, our house of worship cars.”
“The people we serve, in every neighborhood, must always be free from fear and have the immutable right to worship and live in peace. The NYPD sees no New York City connection to the tragedy in New Zealand at this time, but we nevertheless stand prepared to protect the people in all of our communities,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill added.
Miller said “white supremacists are borrowing from the ISIS playbook,” and the NYPD is “seeing an increase in the the propaganda.” He said a key focus for the NYPD is what connections – if any – the suspect may have with the United States.
“Has there been travel to the United States? Are there associates in the United States?” Miller said. “What we see is no significant U.S. nexus. And more importantly, from our individual perspective, no nexus to New York City.”
President Donald Trump told Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern by phone that the United States stood in solidarity with New Zealand.
“These sacred places of worship have been turned into scenes of evil killing. You’ve all been seeing what went on. It’s a horrible, horrible thing,” Trump said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the Islamic Cultural Center in East Harlem Friday evening.
“We understand the pain you’re feeling at this moment, the loss you are feeling and we are here to ensure this community is respected and embraced and protected,” the mayor said.
A manifesto posted online claiming responsibility for the attack is believed to have been written by suspected shooter, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, is still being probed by police in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, Cuomo ordered One World Trade Center’s spire, the Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge and the Kosciuszko Bridge be lit in blue and red tonight to show solidarity with the people of New Zealand and the Muslim community.
Additionally, the Empire State Building went dark in solidarity with the lives that were lost.
Nassau County officials said they were monitoring the situation and increasing patrols around houses of worship, as well.
Three people are in custody, one charged with murder, following the mosque shootings that left at least 49 people dead and dozens more injured. It wasn’t immediately clear how or if the two people in custody who weren’t charged are connected to the terror attack.
In total, the mayor’s office says there are roughly 800,000 Muslims living in New York City, and about 250 mosques throughout the five boroughs.
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