Holder calls shootings ‘act of barbarism’

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Attorney General Eric Holder condemned the “senseless” shooting of two New York City police Saturday, and pledged the full resources of the Justice Department to assist in the investigation of the ambush killings.

“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,” Holder said in a statement. “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.”

A White House official confirmed that President Obama  was briefed, and that White House officials will continue to monitor the situation.

{mosads}New York City police commissioner William Bratton said earlier Saturday that the two officers, Wenjin Liu and Raphael Ramos, were shot without warning while sitting in their parked patrol car. The suspect, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, then ran to a nearby subway station and fatally shot himself.

Bratton said Brinsley had shot his ex-girlfriend earlier Saturday in Baltimore, and posted messages to his social media accounts “which were very anti-police.”

The killings came amid criticism of the New York City police department following the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died when police officers arresting him for selling illegal cigarettes placed him in a chokehold. 

A grand jury decided earlier this month not to indict officers in the death, just days after a similar panel in Ferguson, Mo., opted not to charge Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.

The New York Post published a series of pictures reportedly from Brinsley’s Instagram page that references Brown and Garner and intimates plans to kill police officers in retaliation. The Instagram account is no longer active.

Al Sharpton, who has served as a spokesman for Garner’s family, condemned the shootings in a post to Twitter.

“I am outraged at the killing of 2 police officers in Brooklyn,” Sharpton said. “That is why we stress non violence as the only way to fight for justice.”

President Obama earlier this week signed an executive order establishing a task force dedicated to finding ways to improve relations between communities and their police forces, and Holder himself traveled around the country in recent weeks for a series of roundtable discussions on the subject.

Holder referenced that effort in his statement Saturday on the New York police shooting.

“Our nation must always honor the valor — and the sacrifices — of all law enforcement officers with a steadfast commitment to keeping them safe,” he said. “This means forging closer bonds between officers and the communities they serve, so that public safety is not a cause that is served by a courageous few, but a promise that’s fulfilled by police officials and citizens working side by side.”


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