Crime & Justice

NYC Police Commissioner Bratton: Cops 'quite simply, assassinated'

New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton is joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio at a news conference at Woodhull Hospital following the killing of two New York City police officers  on December 20, 2014 in New York City. The officers were killed execution style Saturday afternoon as they sat in their marked police car on a Brooklyn street corner. The suspect, who killed his girlfriend in Baltimore earlier in the day, was apparently motivated by the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.
New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton is joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio at a news conference at Woodhull Hospital following the killing of two New York City police officers on December 20, 2014 in New York City. The officers were killed execution style Saturday afternoon as they sat in their marked police car on a Brooklyn street corner. The suspect, who killed his girlfriend in Baltimore earlier in the day, was apparently motivated by the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York City's police commissioner says the two officers who were ambushed and killed in their cruiser "were, quite simply, assassinated."

Police Commissioner William Bratton spoke Saturday at a news conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio. He identified the two officers killed in Brooklyn as Wenjin Liu and Raphael Ramos. He says they were shot without warning or provocation.

Bratton says the suspect shot his ex-girlfriend earlier Saturday in Baltimore.

De Blasio says the two officers are heroes.

The police officers were killed in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Authorities say the gunman ran inside a subway station and fatally shot himself in the head.

Previously: An armed man walked up to two New York Police Department officers sitting inside a patrol car and opened fire Saturday afternoon, shooting both of them fatally before running into a nearby subway station and committing suicide, police said.

The shooting took place in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. Both officers were rushed to Woodhull hospital, where one was pronounced dead, police said. The second officer was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Authorities say the suspect fatally shot himself inside the station. His motive wasn't immediately clear.

A block from the shooting site, a line of about eight police officers stood with a German shepherd blocking the taped-off street. Streets were blocked even to pedestrians for blocks around.

Derrick Thompson, who lives nearby, said the shooting happened across from the Tompkins Houses public housing development.

"I was watching TV, and then I heard the helicopters," Thompson said. "I walked out, and all of a sudden — this."

The shooting comes at a tense time. Police in New York are being criticized for their tactics following the chokehold death of Eric Garner, 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 loses consciousness and later dies.

The president of the police officers union, Patrick Lynch, and de Blasio have been locked in a public battle over treatment of officers following the grand jury's decision. Just days ago, Lynch suggested police officers sign a petition that demanded the mayor not attend their funerals should they die on the job.

The last shooting death of an NYPD officer came in December 2011, when 22-year veteran Peter Figoski responded to a report of a break-in at a Brooklyn apartment. He was shot in the face and killed by one of the suspects hiding in a side room when officers arrived. The triggerman, Lamont Pride, was convicted of murder and sentenced in 2013 to 45 years to life in prison.

This story has been updated.