Amid escalating tensions between police and some New York City communities, a lone gunman, who reportedly vowed online to shoot two "pigs" in retaliation for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, allegedly killed two officers execution-style in a patrol car before running to a subway station and killing himself, authorities said, according to the Associated Press.
The civil rights community, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, immediately condemned the shootings, which occurred in broad daylight. "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.
The suspect, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, wrote on an Instagram account before Saturday's shootings: "I'm putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours, let's take 2 of theirs," two city officials with direct knowledge of the case confirmed for AP, the site says. He used the hashtags #Shootthepolice, #RIPErivGardner (sic) and #RIPMikeBrown.
Police allege that Brinsley approached the passenger window of a marked police car and opened fire, striking officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in the head, the report says. The officers were on special patrol doing crime-reduction work in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.
"They were, quite simply, assassinated—targeted for their uniform," said Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who looked pale and shaken at a hospital news conference, AP writes.
The brazen shooting rankled the city and the nation, prompting a response from vacationing President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who released a statement about the shooting.
"I condemn this afternoon's senseless shooting of two New York City police officers in the strongest possible terms," Holder said in the statement. "This was an unspeakable act of barbarism, and I was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of these two brave officers in the line of duty.
"On behalf of all those who serve in the United States Department of Justice, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the officers' loved ones and colleagues," Holder continued. "I will make available all of the resources of the Department to aid the NYPD in investigating this tragedy."
The shooting inflamed smoldering tensions between police and their critics in the aftermath of grand jury decisions not to indict officers in the deaths of Eric Garner, 43, who died in a police choke hold in New York City, and Michael Brown, 18, in Ferguson, Mo.; both were black and unarmed. The officers who killed them over the summer are white.
Brown's family also denounced the shooting in a statement posted online by their attorney. "We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement. It cannot be tolerated. We must work together to bring peace to our communities," the family said, according to AP.
Read more at the Associated Press.