Gunman ambushes NYC police twice in 12 hours, spawns outrage

NEW YORK (AP) - New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the same gunman is responsible for back-to-back shootings targeting New York City police officers.

The New York Police Department on Sunday asked for the public’s assistance identifying the male depicted in these photos for questioning in regard to the Saturday shooting. (Source: Twitter/NYPDNews/CNN)

Leaders in New York City are blaming the ambush on an atmosphere of anti-police rhetoric.

The gunman was taken into custody Sunday after attacks that morning and the night before wounded two officers.

Shea said the gunman shot and wounded an officer in an unprovoked attack on a patrol van.

Less than 12 hours later, the same gunman opened fire at the headquarters of the 41st police precinct, according to police.

One officer was injured in the second shooting. Both officers are expected to fully recover.

Police officials confirmed a suspect, whose name has not been released, is in custody.

Shea said the shootings were assassination attempts.

He lashed out at activists who have held demonstrations against excessive force by police in recent months.

Shea didn’t offer any evidence that the gunman knew of those protests or was influenced by them.

A leader of police reform activists says it was irresponsible for Shea and Mayor Bill de Blasio to link the violence to the recent demonstrations.

Shea said two uniformed officers were sitting in a police van on Saturday night when a man engaged them in conversation and then pulled out a gun “without provocation.”

The man fired multiple shots, striking one officer in the chin and neck.

Shea says the officer is “lucky to be alive” and is expected to make a full recovery.

An NYPD spokesperson said the officer who was injured on Sunday is in stable condition at Lincoln Hospital.

A New York City activist says it is irresponsible for officials to link a weekend ambush on police officers with recent demonstrations against excessive use of force by law enforcement.

Robert Gangi is executive director of the Police Reform Organizing Project and said Sunday the protests have involved activists “protesting in a legitimate fashion.”

He says there is “no defense for a lunatic who opens fire on police."

His comments followed attacks by a gunman that wounded two officers in the Bronx.

The mayor and police commissioner soon cited an atmosphere of anti-police rhetoric.

Police say a suspect was taken into custody.

Shea called the gunman a “coward" and said he had a lengthy criminal history.

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