By Ashley Fantz, Josh Berlinger and Shimon Prokupecz
NEW YORK (CNN) — [Breaking news published at 4:16 p.m. ET]
The man who shot two New York City police officers had a lengthy criminal record. Ismaaiyl Brinsley was arrested 15 times in Georgia for assorted crimes and four times in Ohio, New York Police Department’s Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told reporters Sunday.
Click here for local coverage on this story from FOX 13 News sister station PIX 11 in New York: A city in mourning: Grief for slain NYPD officers as citywide candlelight vigil planned
[Original story published at 3:40 p.m. ET]
The killing this weekend of two New York City police officers as they sat in their patrol car left many people devastated. But a message from the teenage son of one of the officers is a heartbreak in itself.
“Today is the worst day of my life,” 13-year-old Jaden Ramos posted on Facebook about the slaying of his father, Rafael Ramos.
“Today I had to say bye to my father,” the teenager wrote. “He was (there) for me everyday of my life, he was the best father I could ask for. It’s horrible that someone gets shot dead just for being a police officer. Everyone says they hate cops but they are the people that they call for help. I will always love you and I will never forget you. RIP Dad.”
On Saturday, Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu were assigned to an area of the borough that has more crime than their usual beat in downtown Brooklyn, police said.
Police identified the gunman as 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley. Witnesses saw Brinsley walk to the car and assume what they described as a shooting stance. New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said Brinsley fired several times. Ramos and Liu were shot in the head.
The officers were “shot and killed with no warning, no provocation,” Bratton said. “They were, quite simply, assassinated.”
At a nearby subway station, Brinsley was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
The thin blue line
The families of the fallen officers rushed to Woodhull Medical Center on Saturday, as dozens of officers gathered.
Ramos had just turned 40; Liu had been married two months ago.
Both had dreamed of being police officers, Bratton said.
“One of the unfortunate realities of policing is that you put that blue uniform on and you become part of the thin blue line between us and anarchy,” Bratton said.
He sent a memo to NYPD officers about the killings, saying the officers were “targeted for their uniform, and for the responsibility they embraced: to keep the people of this city safe.”
Liu and Ramos “will be remembered,” he wrote. “They will join a line that is too long, a line of partners who served together and made the ultimate sacrifice together.” The memo then named other officers who have lost their lives. “May God grant Officer Wenjian Liu and Officer Rafael Ramos rest. And to all members of the service, be safe,” he said.
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo directed that all flags on state government buildings in New York City be flown at half-staff.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Bratton met with the families of the victims.
“When a police officer is murdered, it tears at the foundation of our society,” the mayor said. “It is an attack on the very concept of decency.”
President Barack Obama condemned the shooting, and called Bratton on Sunday to express condolences for the slain officers.
“Two brave men won’t be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification,” Obama said in a statement. “The officers who serve and protect our communities risk their own safety for ours every single day — and they deserve our respect and gratitude every single day.”
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the attack “an unspeakable act of barbarism.”
Brinsley arrived in New York from Baltimore, but had a home in the Atlanta suburb of Union City, Georgia. Bratton said that Brinsley was somehow connected to Brooklyn, but would not discuss that information.
Bratton said there’s is no indication at this time that Brinsley was connected to any terrorist group or organized entity.
He said Brinsley had earlier shot and seriously wounded a woman in Baltimore believed to be his ex-girlfriend.
Shaneka Nicole Thompson, 29, was shot in the abdomen, Baltimore authorities said Sunday.
She is in critical but stable condition at a hospital and investigators hope to be able to interview her late Sunday or on Monday, authorities told CNN.
Baltimore authorities gave details Sunday about how they communicated with New York police.
At about 2:10 p.m., Baltimore County police made a phone call to the 70th Precinct in New York to tell police there that the phone of a suspect wanted in Thompson’s shooting was pinging at a location in the 70th Precinct.
The two police departments discussed an Instagram post, allegedly by Brinsley, that read, “I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today.” The posting made reference, police said, to the high-profile deaths of African-Americans Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Police officers killed both men.
“They Take 1 Of Ours, Let’s Take 2 of Theirs,” the post said, according to authorities. The account also displayed a handgun and a message that said it might be the poster’s last message.
Baltimore County police also faxed a “wanted” poster to New York police with information about Brinsley.
Records show Brinsley had a lengthy arrest record in Georgia, mostly involving charges of shoplifting and illegal weapons possession, records show.
He was also charged with property damage and obstructing a police officer and pleaded guilty to many of the charges, according to police and court records.
“This can’t happen”
The shooting shocked residents in the neighborhood.
“This can’t happen. If you mad at somebody, be mad at the person that you are mad at. Now, we have two families that (are) missing somebody for the holidays,” Shaniqua Pervis told CNN affiliate WABC.
“Where is your humanity? I know it’s a war going on and shoutout to Eric Garner’s family and everybody else who lost somebody, but you’re not at his house, on his lawn. This is two (officers). You don’t even know if (they were) good or bad. I don’t condone this, and I’m not with it.”
The woman was referring to the controversial July death of the unarmed black man after New York police officers on Staten Island wrestled him to the ground, with one of the officers wrapping his arm around Garner’s neck in a chokehold.
A grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer in the Garner case, as well as a separate grand jury’s refusal to indict an officer in a controversial police shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, led to nationwide protests against the police.
Brown’s family condemned Saturday’s slayings.
“We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot be tolerated. We must work together to bring peace to our communities,” they said in a statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officers’ families during this incredibly difficult time.”
In a statement, activist the Rev. Al Sharpton said the Garner family was outraged by the police officers’ killings.
“Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases,” the statement said. “We have stressed at every rally and march that anyone engaged in any violence is an enemy to the pursuit of justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown.”
Tensions between the community and police have heightened around the country since the deaths of Brown and Garner.
“This could not have come at a worse time,” City Councilman Robert Cornegy told CNN affiliate WPIX.
So far, police have not commented on the motive for the Brooklyn shootings, except to say the officers were not engaging the shooter in any way when they were shot.
CNN’s Ray Sanchez, Josh Berlinger, David Shortell, Mariano Castillo and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
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