What to know about this weekend’s NYPD shootings

The suspect has been apprehended – but some cops are mad at the mayor.


NYPD Christopher Penler/Shutterstock

On Saturday night and early Sunday morning, a man attempted to kill New York Police Department officers in the Bronx on two separate occasions, 12 hours a part. Now, the police seargant’s union is blaming the mayor. 

At 8:00 p.m., Saturday, the man allegedly asked two NYPD officers in a police van – near the 41st precinct that serves Hunts Point – for directions before shooting into the vehicle. The officer driving the van was hit on his chin and neck. The officer’s partner, unscaved, then drove them to a nearby hospital. And at 8:00 a.m., Sunday, a gunman opened fire in the 41st precinct, leaving two wounded and one injured, before being apprehended by police officers in the precinct. All of the officers are expected to make full recoveries.

The suspect of both shootings has been identified as Robert Williams, 45, who has a lengthy criminal history and was out on parole for an attempted murder in 2002 that also included a gun battle with police officers. Williams was taken into custody at the 41st precinct and has been charged with attempted murder, criminal possession of a weapon and resisting arrest.

Shortly after the second shooting, President Donald Trump fired off a tweet, saying that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “weak leadership” is to blame for the NYPD being “under assault.”

Last week’s protest against increased policing of the subway system that included some expression of anti-cop sentiments was quickly blamed by de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea for inciting anti-police violence. Though no evidence has been uncovered yet that connects Williams to the protest or protest group. 

“We have people marching in New York City last week and I condemned it and I condemn it right here again today – using profanities against the Police Department,” said Shea on Sunday. “Everyone should be speaking out against this, and you have to be careful about the words you use, whether it’s on social media or on written papers or speaking, because words matter and words affect people’s behavior.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, similarly expressed dismay over the weekend’s events and suggested that protests have fostered negative sentiments toward the NYPD. “Anyone who spews hatred at our officers is aiding and abetting this kind of atmosphere. It’s not acceptable,” said de Blasio. “You can protest whatever for whatever you believe in, but you cannot vilely attack those who are here to protect us. It creates this kind of dynamic.”

Despite hizzoner’s show of support, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, one of the NYPD’s largest labor unions, quickly declared “war” on the mayor. “You sold the NYPD to the vile creatures, the 1% who hate cops but vote for you,” said the SBA. “NYPD cops have been assassinated because of you.”

Though the SBA’s response may seem hysterical to those unfamiliar with its fiery Twitter account, this is pretty much how it typically operates.

There have been other shootings of NYPD officers in recent years that have contributed to a contentious atmosphere between cops and civilians. In 2014, NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot while sitting in their police vehicle. Their deaths followed a march against police violence. The man who killed Liu and Ramos did not live in New York, but he had made many anti-officer sentiments on social media, including angry posts about the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases. And in 2017, NYPD officer Miosotis Familia was shot at her police command post, without any warning.