The man believed to have murdered two New York City police officers in an execution style attack on Saturday referenced the police-related deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner on social media after the ambush and shortly before fatally shooting himself.
The suspected gunman, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, also had a long criminal rap sheet and, according to New York Daily News, may have been a member of the Baltimore-based gang, Black Guerilla Family, which allegedly made threats earlier this month to murder on-duty police officers as retribution for the deaths of Brown and Garner — two black men who were killed by white police officers.
Brinsley is also believed to have shot his girlfriend early Saturday morning in Baltimore. She underwent surgery and survived.
On his way to New York City after the Baltimore shooting, Brinsley posted on his girlfriend’s Instagram account his intentions to shoot police officers. Around 3 p.m., Brinsley approached two male officers — identified as Wenjin Liu and Rafael Ramos — who were eating lunch in their police vehicle in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
Brinsley approached the vehicle from the passenger-side window and fired several shots, killing both officers.
The shooter’s first Instagram post showed a picture of a handgun, with the following caption:
“I’m Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours…Let’s Take 2 of Theirs #ShootThePolice #RIPErivGarner #RIPMikeBrown This May Be My Final Post I’m Putting Pigs In A Blanket”
The next post showed a picture of what is believed to be Brinsley’s camouflage pants with blood stains on them.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) December 20, 2014
After shooting the officers, Brinsley ran into the subway where he shot himself. Brinsley’s Instagram account has been taken offline. But his Facebook page is still operating.
One of the groups “liked” by Brinsley on the site is “Fuck George Zimmerman,” a reference to the Florida man who shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense in 2012.
Other posts and pictures show Brinsley sporting expensive clothing and displaying a largely anti-social attitude.
According to the Daily News, Brinsley was a member of the Black Guerilla Family gang. Earlier this month, unspecified threats surfaced that ten members of that gang were planning to murder police officers. There was confusion over whether the group planned to target NYPD officers or Baltimore police. The threats were dismissed as lacking credibility.
New York City police commissioner Bill Bratton said in a press conference Saturday evening that investigators had not determined whether Brinsley was tied to any groups, including the Baltimore street gang.
Brinsley also had a lengthy rap sheet, according to numerous sources. He was arrested for offenses ranging from marijuana possession, assault, theft and making terrorist assaults.
Saturday’s shooting comes after unrest following recent grand jury decisions to not indict two white police officers in the deaths of Brown and Garner.
Protesters have taken to the streets across the U.S., blocking traffic and in some cases engaging in violence. In October, 32-year-old Zale Thompson attacked NYPD officers with a hatchet. Thompson was deemed to be a lone wolf terrorist.
Rev. Al Sharpton issued a statement shortly after the shooting, distancing himself and protesters from the violence.
“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,” Sharpton said in a statement. “We have been criticized at National Action Network for not allowing rhetoric or chanting of violence and would abruptly denounce it at all of our gatherings. The Garner family and I have always stressed that we do not believe that all police are bad, in fact we have stressed that most police are not bad.”