A man wanted for illegal gun possession was charged on Sunday with the attempted murder of a New York City plainclothes police officer who was shot in the head while pursuing the suspect in his unmarked car, authorities said.
Officer Brian Moore, 25, remained in critical but stable condition at Jamaica Hospital, a spokeswoman for the New York Police Department said.
Police identified the suspect in the shooting in the New York borough of Queens on Saturday as Demetrius Blackwell, 35. He was arrested soon after the shooting and on Sunday he was charged with attempted murder, assault and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon, the NYPD said.
The shooting took place five months after the fatal ambush of two uniformed New York City police officers in Brooklyn. The gunman in that case had said he wanted to avenge black men killed in confrontations with white officers.
The shooting of Moore, who is white, initially sparked concern it was a replay of the Brooklyn murders. It occurred as tensions are running high in Baltimore over the death last month of a black man from injuries sustained while in police custody.
But, asked at a news conference if the suspect expressed any anti-police sentiment or was influenced by recent demonstrations against police, Police Commissioner William Bratton said there was no indication of that. “We haven’t identified any activity on his part whatsoever on social media,” he told reporters about two hours after the shooting.
Moore is the fifth New York City officer shot in five months, police said.
Bratton said Blackwell shot at Moore and another officer at about 6:15 p.m. on Saturday while they were in their car in a middle-class Queens neighborhood.
The officers were trying to question Blackwell, who had an extensive criminal background, after they observed him appearing to adjust an object in his waistband, Bratton said.
Blackwell “removed a firearm from his waistband and … fired several times into the vehicle,” Bratton said, adding that both officers were still seated in the car and did not have a chance to get out or return fire.
Police said on Sunday that Blackwell was wanted on outstanding charges from previous criminal activity including grand larceny, criminal possession of a weapon and menacing.
The December shooting took place at a time when New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s relations with city police were at a low point over what was perceived to be the mayor’s failure to support law enforcement during a wave of anti-police protests late last year.
Hundreds of officers turned their backs when de Blasio delivered a eulogy at one of the officer’s funerals.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Frank McGurty and Frances Kerry)