Shocking news has broken out of Brooklyn, New York — according to multiple outlets, two NYPD officers were fatally shot in their car Saturday afternoon. The shooting occurred in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, and the suspect in the killings has reportedly died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. According to CBS News, both of the NYPD officers died from their injuries, one of whom was shot in the head. Their names were Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. A law enforcement source speaking to the New York Daily News summed up the crime like this: "The perp came out of the houses, walked up behind the car and lit them up."
It's a grisly story, and it comes at a time with already sky-high tensions between the NYPD and many members of its communities, owing to the recent grand jury non-indictment of Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of 43-year-old Eric Garner. That's not in any way to say that the two incidents are related, as there's no establishing that to any reasonable standard at this early stage. But with protests ongoing over the last few weeks, and expected to continue amid this understandable new tension on the part of the department, it's not too daring to expect that the situation in Brooklyn is going to be heightened going forward.
As with all of these sorts of fraught, tragic stories, it's worth exercising a little caution. Some outlets have already run with the notion that this awful incident was intended as retribution for the Garner decision, citing an anonymous law enforcement source's account to the New York Post that the killing was a revenge "execution." Vox, in particular, absorbed a lot of criticism for following this lead, assigning blame on the Garner decision on the strength of some of the suspect's alleged social media posts.
There are further relevant questions, however, as it's also been reported that the suspect shot his girlfriend in Baltimore late Saturday night, before heading to Brooklyn for the fatal attack. At this stage, reports are still varied and uncertain, and it's unclear whether the woman he allegedly shot died, or is expected to survive. After the shooting, social media spoke to the increased police presence in Brooklyn, with helicopters hovering in the skies above.
This is a story which will hopefully become more clear in the days and weeks ahead, but for the time being, suffice to say that we should all take a moment to appreciate the sacrifice of these two officers, Liu and Ramos, as well as the shooter's girlfriend, whose condition is still a matter of conflicting reports. It's already been a rough, rough year for news in 2014, and this makes it that much worse. Stay safe, everyone.