Brooklyn candlelight vigil held for slain NYPD officers

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Monday, December 22, 2014
City reeling from murders of 2 NYPD officers
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The NYPD is mourning two New York City officers who were shot and killed inside a marked patrol car in Brooklyn Saturday.

NEW YORK -- Friends,family and colleagues of the two New York City Police officers killed in the line of duty gathered in Brooklyn's, Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood for a vigil held in their honor on Sunday.

VIDEO: Vigil for fallen NYPD officers growing

The two New York City officers were shot and killed inside a marked patrol car in Brooklyn Saturday. They were "ambushed and murdered," and never had an opportunity to draw their weapons, authorities said.

The two officers, identified as Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were on duty around 3 p.m. in Bedford-Stuyvesant near Tompkins and Myrtle Avenues when both were shot in the head.

Autopsy results from the Medical Examiner found that Officer Rafael Ramos' cause of death was gunshot wounds of his head, neck and torso. Officer Wenjian Liu 's cause of death was a gunshot wound of his head. Both deaths were classified as homicides.

The autopsy found that the suspect died of a gunshot wound to the head and his manner of death was ruled a suicide.

Borough presidents gathered at the location Sunday to call for peace and unity. Police officers and other mourners stood in silence Sunday during a candlelight vigil near the spot where the two officers were shot in their patrol car.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is also calling on protesters to halt demonstrations until the officers are laid to rest.

"We want to send a very clear and loud message that what happened yesterday was a strike at public safety and that which we hold dear," he said. "We are asking all New Yorkers to turn this page into purpose... All lives matter."

READ MORE: NYPD shooting suspect promised attack ahead of time

Candles, flowers and an American flag were placed as part of a makeshift memorial, and bunting has been hung in honor of the officers at the 84th Precinct, where they worked.

Members of the Ramos family spoke outside their home Sunday evening.

"I would like to thank all those who have shared their sympathy and support for our beloved family member, Rafael Ramos, who will always be loved and missed by many," the victim's aunt, Lucy Ramos, said. "I hope and pray that we can reflect on this tragic loss of lives that have occurred, so that we can move forward and find an amicable path to a peaceful coexistence. We would like to extend our condolences to the Liu family, also. Thank you."

Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered all flags lowered to half-staff from Saturday night through the officers' interments.

The NYPD is on high alert Sunday, with PBA President Pat Lynch sending a message to the membership recommending that two units respond to every call.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said the suspect in the shooting ran inside a subway station and fatally shot himself in the head. He was identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, of Georgia.

PHOTOS: 2 NYPD officers shot, killed

Bratton spoke during a briefing at Woodhull hospital in Brooklyn, where the two officers had been declared dead.

"We will never forget the two young men whose lives we lost today," said Bratton.

Liu, 32, was a seven-year veteran and married just two months ago. Ramos just turned 40 and is a two-year veteran of the force after three years as a school safety officer. Ramos was married and has a 13-year-old son.

"They were, quite simply, assassinated - targeted for their uniform, and for the responsibility they embraced: to keep the people of this city safe," Bratton said.

He said the officers were assigned to a Critical Response Vehicle in the confines of the 79 Precinct, which have been assigned to housing developments throughout the city that had seen an increase in violence in the early part of the year.

Officer Ramos was in the driver seat, and Officer Liu was in the front passenger seat beside him.

According to witnesses, the suspect Brinsley walked up to the police car. He took a shooting stance on the passenger side and fired his weapon several times through the front passenger window striking both officers in the head, Bratton said.

"Officer Liu and Officer Ramos never had the opportunity to draw their weapons. They may never have actually seen their assailant, their murderer," Bratton said.

Brinsley ran off and fled into the Myrtle Avenue and Willoughby Street (G) train subway station. While on the platform, Brinsley shot himself in the head, taking his own life. A silver semi-automatic Taurus firearm was recovered on the subway platform near his body.

A silver semi-automatic Taurus firearm was recovered on the subway platform near the suspect's body.

Brinsley had posted an Instagram picture earlier Saturday in which he said "I'm putting wings on pigs. They take one of ours, we take two of theirs".

"This may be my final post," Brinsley wrote in the Instagram post that included an image of a silver handgun. The post had more than 200 likes.

In Baltimore County, at 5:45 a.m., Brinsley's former girlfriend was shot and wounded by Brinsley, said Bratton. According to Baltimore police, that victim, who is 29, was shot in her apartment by Brinsley. The victim was shot in the abdomen and is expected to survive. Her name has not yet been released.

Brinsley fled the scene before police arrived at the scene in Baltimore. Detectives became aware around 1:30 p.m. of Instagram posts by the suspect that included threats against police officers. Investigators determined that the posts indicated the suspect was in Brooklyn. They also began tracking his phone.

At 2:10 p.m., Baltimore police say they made a phone call to the 70th precinct in New York, advising NYPD that the phone of a suspect wanted for a shooting was pinging at a location in the 70th precinct. NYPD and BCoPD discussed the threatening Instagram posts during that phone call. At the same time, a "wanted" poster was faxed to the NYPD with information about the suspect. Bratton said all this information came together around the same time as the suspect shot the officers.

Hundreds of police officers responded to the scene in Bed-Stuy. Several surrounding streets were also blocked, and many people in their neighborhood were not allowed to leave their homes.

The shooting comes at a time when police in New York and nationwide are being heavily criticized for their tactics following the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a black man who was stopped by police for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes and could be heard on an amateur video gasping, "I can't breathe" as he was being arrested.

"It is an attack on all of us. It is an attack on everything we hold dear," said Mayor de Blasio, who also spoke at the news conference.

One city councilman called the shooting in Brooklyn "the worst thing that could have happened."

VIDEO: Councilman speaks out after double police shooting

Adams emphasized that the city must be "united, not divided" after the violent loss of the two officers.

"We can disagree, but we must not be disagreeable toward each other in a way that may create fissures between us," he said. "I hope that we will honor the memory of all of those we have lost to senseless violence, including these officers, and build a path to a safer and more just city that cares for every one of us."

President Obama was briefed on the Brooklyn police shooting, according to an official. In a statement Saturday night, Attorney General Eric Holder called the attack "cowardly" and said it underscores the dangers routinely faced by law enforcement.

Dozens of Bed-Stuy residents came to the scene after hearing the gunshots.

VIDEO: Resident speaks out over double police shooting

A block from the shooting site, a line of about eight police officers stood with a German shepherd blocking the taped-off street. Streets were blocked even to pedestrians for blocks around.

Derrick Thompson, who lives nearby, said the shooting happened across from the Tompkins Houses public housing development.

"I was watching TV, and then I heard the helicopters," Thompson said. "I walked out, and all of a sudden - this."

The last shooting death of an NYPD officer came in December 2011, when 22-year veteran Peter Figoski responded to a report of a break-in at a Brooklyn apartment. He was shot in the face and killed by one of the suspects hiding in a side room when officers arrived. The triggerman, Lamont Pride, was convicted of murder and sentenced in 2013 to 45 years to life in prison.

Anyone with information surrounding Saturday's shooting is asked to call 1800-577-TIPS or 1800-COP-SHOT.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.