The two New York City police officers who were ambushed and shot to death in their vehicle Saturday were "quite simply, assassinated," and the suspect had made Instagram posts that were very anti-police, the police commissioner said.
William Bratton said the officers, Liu Wenjin and Raphael Ramos, were shot without warning or provocation. The suspect, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, then ran inside a subway station and fatally shot himself in the head.
President Barack Obama says he unconditionally condemns the murder of two police officers shot in broad daylight on Saturday in New York.
Obama says there's no justification for the killings. He says police offers risk their own safety to serve and protect their communities and that they deserve the public's respect and gratitude.
Obama is asking Americans to reject violence and harmful words. He's encouraging people instead to embrace words that heal, and to seek out prayer and sympathy for the victims' relatives.
Bratton also said the suspect shot his ex-girlfriend earlier Saturday in Baltimore and made posts from her Instagram account. "This may be my final post," said one that included an image of a silver handgun.
Two officials told The Associated Press that the suspect posted about shooting two "pigs" in retaliation for the death of Eric Garner. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The shooting occurred hours later, around the time that Bratton said that New York police were receiving a warning fax from Baltimore authorities.
Police in New York are being criticized for their tactics following the recent chokehold death of Garner, an unarmed black man who was stopped by police on suspicion of selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. Amateur video captured an officer wrapping his arm around Garner's neck and wrestling him to the ground. Garner was heard gasping, "I can't breathe" before he lost consciousness.
Demonstrators around the country have staged protests since a grand jury decided Dec. 3 not to indict the officer in Garner's death. The decision closely followed a Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict a white officer in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a civil rights activist, said Saturday that Garner's family had no connection to the suspect and denounced the violence.
"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," Sharpton said.
The last shooting death of a New York Police Department officer came in December 2011, after a report of a break-in at a Brooklyn apartment.
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