NYC cops attacked by hatchet-wielding man, stoking terrorism fears
A hatchet-wielding attacker charged a group of New York City police officers posing for a photograph on Thursday, wounded two, one critically, before the assailant was shot dead, police said.
The officers were on foot patrol when they were asked by a freelance photographer to pose for a picture on a Jamaica, Queens street at about 2 p.m., a New York Police Department spokesman said.
Suddenly a man carrying a hatchet charged the officers, swinging it and striking one officer in the right arm and then swinging it again and striking a second officer in the head, the spokesman said.
The remaining two officers fired their weapons at the man, hitting him.
The suspect, identified in media reports as Zale Thompson, had posted numerous statements on YouTube and Facebook that “display a hyper-racial focus in both religious and historical contexts, and ultimately hint at his extremist leanings,” according to the SITE monitoring group.
A 29-year-old female bystander was struck by a stray bullet. She underwent surgery and was recovering at the hospital, the spokesman said.
Both officers were being treated at Jamaica Hospital, with the 25-year-old officer who was hit in the head in a critical but stable condition after undergoing surgery, police said.
“The cop was bleeding, like, pretty horribly,” witness Rudy Escamilla told WCBS-TV.
The other officer, who is 24 years old, was in stable condition, the spokesman said.
“At this point, no known motive for this attack has been established,” Police Commissioner William Bratton told a press conference.
Police declined to comment on media reports that the attack was tied to “terrorism” and that an internal memo urged officers to maintain a heightened level of awareness in the wake of recent attacks in Canada.
All four officers involved in the New York City incident graduated on July 8 from the city Police Academy.
Watch this video report posted online by WCBS-TV:
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Sandra Maler)