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NYPD officer killings hit home for Cary man as authorities piece together killer's life

Posted December 21, 2014
Updated December 22, 2014

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— Moments after two New York City police officers were killed in what has been described as an assassination, Bob Young’s phone started ringing.

Young, a retired NYC officer, began his career at the 84th precinct, the Brooklyn, N.Y. post that officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were assigned to.

“I walked that foot post,” said Young, who lives in Cary. “I walked by that building many times. I’ve seen the scene where the shooting occurred. I’ve been there.”

Ramos and Liu were sitting in their marked patrol car near Myrtle and Tompkins avenues in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood on Saturday when Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, approached their vehicle from behind and shot four rounds into the officers’ heads and upper bodies, officials said.

Ramos, who was in the driver’s seat, was a father of two who recently turned 40. Liu, the passenger, was married two months ago, according to news reports.

Moments before the shooting, Brinsley approached people on the street and said “watch what I’m going to do,” said NYC Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce during a Sunday afternoon media briefing.

About a dozen people witnessed the shooting, including two utility workers who pursued Brinsley into a nearby subway station, Boyce said.

Brinsley shot and killed himself in the subway station as officers closed in on him, officials said.

Authorities said Brinsley, angered by the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, shot his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore before taking a bus to New York City. Brinsley dated the woman for about a year and had a key to her apartment that he should not have had, Boyce said.

“She didn’t want anyting to do with him, and that caused the argument,” he said.

Saturday’s shootings comes amid tensions between police and communities of color nationwide after the deaths of Brown, an unarmed man who was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer, and Garner, who died after being placed in chokehold by officers in Staten Island, N.Y. Brown and Garner were black and the officers involved in their deaths are white. Grand juries in both cases decided not to indict the involved officers, which sparked demonstrations across the country.

The protests have since turned to calls for changes in how law enforcement interacts with the public, especially in minority communities. Using the rallying call “Black Lives Matter,” protesters have shut down highways, held “die-ins" on college campuses and displayed slogans of support. Some have compared the effort to the civil rights movement.

On Sunday, family members, elected officials and community members gathered in front of Ramos’ childhood home in Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills neighborhood.

“We want to send a message out. We don’t want the city of New York to think that everyone is against the police department,” said Juan Rodriguez, president of the 75th precinct community council who knew Ramos for over 20 years. “Everyone with me tonight is from the NYPD, and that’s the clear message we’re sending.”

Family members wiped away tears during the press conference, where city and state elected officials called the shooting “cowardly” and “senseless.”

“I hope and pray that we can reflect on this tragic lost of lives that have occurred as we can move forward and find an amiciable path to a peacful co-existance,” said Lucy Ramos, an aunt who spoke during the briefing.

Born in Brooklyn, Brinsley went to high school in New Jersey and often travelled between New York and Georgia, where his sister lives, said Boyce, the chief of detectives.

Brinsley had a troubled childhood to the point that his mother was afraid of him, according to news reports. He also had nearly two dozen arrests in Georgia and Ohio, news reports said. Brinsley’s past social media posts include rants about police and govenment, Boyce said.

Investigators spent Sunday tracing Brinsley’s final steps. They were also determining if he suffered from mental illness.

“We’re looking back to see where he was in the week,” Boyce said. “We believe he was in New York earlier this week.”

Brinsley recently said in an Instagram post that he was heading to New York to attack police officers. A warning from Baltimore officials arrived nearly the same time as the shootings, officials said.

According to media reports, under the picture of a firearm, the post read: “I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours......Let’s Take 2 of Theirs #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGardner #RIPMikeBrown.”

Ramos and Liu never drew their weapons, NYC Police Commissioner William Bratton said on Saturday. He added that the officers may have never seen Brinsley.

The families of Garner and Brown, as well as civil rights leaders and President Barack Obama, condemed the killings.

“It should not lead to this,” said Young, the retired officer. “This is a despicable act.”

Young didn’t know the slain officers but said they’re bonded by the 84th precinct.

“I called an officer who lives in Charleston, he’s a good friend of mine, and he was crying on the phone because it hurt him,” he said. "It hurt him deeply."

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  • ncprr1 Dec 22, 2014

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    Love it...you speak for most of real America.

  • Obama-in-2016 Dec 22, 2014

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    You are my hero!! Well said!!

  • Sherrill Craig Dec 22, 2014
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    YOU ROCK.

  • dellman44 Dec 22, 2014

    God Bless our police. They work hard with marginal pay to protect us law abiding citizens. The creeps and criminals should watch out..

  • Obama-in-2016 Dec 22, 2014

    I think it's safe to say that most of these protesters are dangerous. People should use EXTREME caution if you are around them. They cannot be trusted anymore.

  • Cathy Cheek Dec 22, 2014
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    God Bless these officers and their family's may God be with them,

  • anonymous99 Dec 22, 2014

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    Let me spell this out simply for you...

    I drive an old car, so I can save for my kid's education. I read to my kids every night, even when I'd rather be at a bar. I go to work every day. I studied. I got a public education, that led to a good job. I do things that are not fun, because they are good for my family and community. I make products that help keep this country running. I pay my taxes. I do not punch cops in the face...

    Until folks like you can comprehend that sending kids off to kindergarten with no dad and a 300 word vocabulary (30 of which are profane) is going to mess them up for life, there is no reason to listen to you, because you are not facing the uncomfortable truths you need to face. All you are doing is trying to burden productive members of society with problems they did not create, and cannot solve.

  • Tarheel Takeover Dec 22, 2014

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    Don't use the arrest photo's to try and support your comments or your way of thinking. First of all these photo's aren't even half of the people who were locked up on that day. There are much more blacks, whites, and spanish americans who were locked up, and there pictures were not posted. Secondly, if you have a lot of poor black communities in a county the majority of your arrest will be black. If you have a lot poor white communities in a county, the majority of your arrest will be white. So the arrest photos can not be used to support your theory.

  • Erik Sheahan Dec 22, 2014
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    How true. Part of the problem with the protestors is that they do not have all of the facts before they protest and when they do protest it is not about equality and fairness to others; it's about taking their feelings of anger out on others and inconveniencing the innocent population. Protest should be directed at and to the person or persons they feel need to make changes. There's a saying people need to follow: One person's rights end where someone else's begin.

  • Alan Baker Dec 22, 2014
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    It

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    It's convenient to try to reduce this to a single incident or two but that's not what people are upset about (and the people trying to make hay of this politically know it, even if you don't.) Racial profiling, "driving while black" and the disproportionate use of force are all problems with the American police system, and they are problems well worth addressing. I don't claim to pontificate on your life (though I repeat my utter certainty that you are in fact white and male) but "I don't have a problem, therefore you don't either." is a much more problematic delusion than any you might think I have.

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