A 22-year-old Police Officer was killed and his partner critically wounded Friday evening after a 47-year-old man opened fire on them inside a Central Harlem apartment.
Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora and one other officer from the nearby 32nd Precinct responded to a first-floor apartment on West 135th St. near Lennox Ave. about 6:15 p.m. following a 911 call by a woman who told the operator that she had been arguing with her son, who she and another son told the arriving officers was in the apartment’s single bedroom, down a hallway.
As Officers Rivera and Mora approached the bedroom door, the gunman, later identified as LaShawn McNeil, fired numerous rounds from a Glock .45 equipped with a high-capacity magazine, killing Officer Rivera and severely wounding Officer Mora, 27.
The third officer, who had waited with the mother and other son in the front of the apartment, fired his service weapon and hit Mr. McNeil in the head and right arm. Officials did not disclose his condition.
Mayor Adams, standing with Commissioner Keechant Sewell and other NYPD officials at Harlem Hospital, where the second officer was being treated, condemned what were the fourth and fifth shootings of NYPD officers in recent days.
“It is our city against the killers,” he said. “This was not just an attack on three brave officers. This was an attack on the city of New York and it is an attack on the children and families of this city.”
But Mr. Adams, who earlier in the evening had attended a vigil for an 11-month-old girl shot in The Bronx earlier in the week, called for a united front to combat the violence. “We are not going to win this battle by dividing lines between us. We must save this city together,” he said.
The NYPD’s Chief of Detectives, James Essig, said Mr. McNeil was on parole following a felony narcotics arrest in 2003 in the city.
Prior to that, he had been arrested on charges of assaulting a police officer in Pennsylvania in 2002 and on a gun-possession charge in North Carolina in 1998. He had two other drug arrests, Chief Essig said.
The longtime president of the Police Benevolent Association, Patrick J. Lynch, who has often spoken about the lack of support for officers, said the shootings were not unexpected but could also prove a marker for a needed dialogue about the violence that has engulfed some city neighborhoods since shortly after the start of the pandemic.
“Our hearts are broken. We’re in shock. Our knees are buckling,” he said at Harlem Hospital. “And we’re angry, because we’ve been here before; we’re angry because we saw it coming; we’re angry because we said it would happen, and it happened again.”
Calls For Unity
But Mr. Lynch also said the moment called for unity and that the shooting should preface what he called “a real conversation” regarding the increases in violent crime that began nearly two years ago.
He asked residents to show support for officers. “We will stand patch to patch and bury our brother. We will bow our heads in sadness, but we need you too,” the union leader said, and called on residents to also attend Officer Rivera’s funeral.
“The public,” he said, “has to send a message.”
Commissioner Sewell, her NYPD badge striped with commemorative black tape, took several moments to gather herself before addressing the press. “Tonight a 22-hear old son, husband, officer and friend was killed because he did what we asked him to do,” she said. “We’re mourning and we’re angry, the NYPD, New York City, all of us.”
The three officers, the Commissioner said, “were doing their job.”