This article was originally published on NBCNewYork.com on Dec. 20, 2014.
One of the two officers gunned down Saturday in their patrol car in Brooklyn had just gotten married and the other had recently celebrated his 40th birthday, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said.
Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were sitting in their car in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Saturday when they were were each shot in the head by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a man NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said made “very anti-police statements” on social media hours before firing on the officers and running into a nearby subway station, where he took his own life.
“Both officers paid the ultimate sacrifice today while protecting the communities they serve,” Bratton said.
Liu and Ramos are the first NYPD officers to be fatally shot in the line of duty since December 2011, when veteran cop Peter Figoski was gunned down by Lamont Pride while he was responding to a break-in call in Brooklyn
Ramos and Liu were both working in a special patrol doing crime reduction in the Brooklyn neighborhood when they were killed, Bratton said. Brinsley is suspected of shooting his girlfriend in Baltimore hours before and posting on Instagram that he was “putting wings on pigs today” before making the trip to the Brooklyn neighborhood.
Bratton said Saturday that Liu was a seven-year veteran with the NYPD and had gotten married two months ago. Ramos joined the force in 2012 and celebrated his 40th birthday with his wife and teenage son earlier this month.
Rosie Orengo, a friend of Ramos, said he was heavily involved in their church and encouraged others in their marriages.
“He was an amazing man. He was the best father and husband and friend,” she said. “Our peace is knowing that he’s OK, and we’ll see him in heaven.”
After the shooting, a line of about eight police officers stood with a German shepherd blocking the taped-off street.
Later, scores of officers in uniform lined up three rows deep outside the hospital to honor the fallen police officers as their bodies were taken away amid silence. The mayor and governor ordered flags at half-staff.
Saturday afternoon, Mayor de Blasio asked New Yorkers to pray for the families of Ramos and Liu.
“It’s a moment of terrible loss and it’s a moment when we must all come together to support these families, to support healing, and to be thankful that there are heroes among us like Officer Ramos and Officer Liu,” de Blasio said.
The president of the police officers union, Patrick Lynch said there was “blood on many hands,” explicitly blaming de Blasio and demonstrators protesting a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict an NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed man who died while being arrested on suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes earlier this year.
Some of the officers standing at the hospital where Liu and Ramos were pronounced dead turned their backs on de Blasio as he walked in for a news conference.
On Sunday, Sgt. Ed Mullins, president of the NYC Sergeants Benevolent Association, issued a statement that also implied that City Hall has failed to support the police force.
“We are locked side by side with the PBA,” he wrote. “I assure you from the bottom of my soul there will be accountability from those who have enabled a lawless atmosphere in this city.”
Marc Kovar, executive vice president of the New Jersey PBA, urged officers there to “take extra personal safety steps” in light of the Brooklyn shootings.
“The tragedy in New York City reinforces the need to always be cognizant of people targeting our profession,” he said. “Officers should change up their routines such as meal break locations and wait for additional backup on any calls which appear out of the ordinary.”