Months of nationwide protests against police violence took a tragic turn in New York City on Saturday after a gunman targeted two police officers in apparent retaliation for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were sitting in their patrol car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn when 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and killed them at close range.
Whether the suspect, who turned the gun on himself after the incident, was really motivated by recent cases of police violence is unknown. Hours before the attack, Brinsley reportedly shot his girlfiend in Maryland and said in a message on Instagram that he’d be “putting wings on pigs today,” adding the hashtags #ShootThePolice, #RIPErivGardner [sic], and #RIPMikeBrown.
But the outpouring of heartbreak across the city is palpable, as officers and residents grapple with the deaths and the uncertain future of law enforcement.