Thursday, December 25, 2014

Threats to New York Police Stream In After Fatal Shootings, Putting Department on Edge
Ismaaiyl Brinsley is said to have killed two New York City police.
New York Times
DEC. 24, 2014

In the days since two New York City police officers were fatally shot in their car by a man who forecast his intentions online, threats of other attacks on the police have streamed in from 311, 911 and online postings. Investigators have scrambled to separate serious warnings from disturbing pranks.

On Wednesday, heavily armed officers stood guard outside a pair of precinct station houses in Brooklyn that were the targets of specific violent threats. Officials felt enough concern that the Fire Department moved an entire engine company from its base adjacent to one of the station houses.

John J. Miller, the deputy commissioner of intelligence and counter-terrorism, said: “Some of these are angry people who call and rant; some are ill-advised Internet pranks or drunks who are texting, and those wash out fairly quickly. There are a handful that are of concern, and those are the cases where we devote the time and resources.”

Four people have been arrested in connection with making threats against officers. The Police Department has investigated more than 40 that it deemed serious among hundreds it received or saw in online postings. Many originated outside New York and have been referred to local law enforcement agencies.

The sudden influx of violent messages set a department already reeling from the deaths of its officers on edge. Precincts specifically cited in the threats saw deployments of additional forces, and union officials urged officers to wear their bullet-resistant vests.

The threats, officials believe, are echoes of those posted by a gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who killed the two officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, on Saturday afternoon as they sat in their patrol car in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Hours before, he announced his plan on Instagram.

Buffeted by the deaths of the officers at a time of widespread protests against the police, Mayor Bill de Blasio has implored New Yorkers who have seen or heard similar “cowardly threats of violence” to report them immediately.

“New York City stands with our police officers in this time of tragedy,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “Our city will not be intimidated by those spouting hateful, violent messages.”

Of the four people arrested, two were teenagers in Brooklyn. Each teenager was charged with a felony for making a “terroristic” threat in messages posted on Facebook. One, Devon Coley, 18, was arrested Monday and released on his own recognizance pending a court date; the other, Yasin Shearin, 16, is being held on $50,000 bail.

Two more arrests, on misdemeanor charges, stemmed from false accusations of threats: Roberto Labita, 46, of Staten Island and, in a separate incident, Robert Bowman, 52, of Washington Heights. The police said Mr. Bowman had accused his cousin of making threats when he had not.

A more serious and specific warning of an impending gun battle with officers came from a police informer, placing officers at the station houses for the 79th and 81st Precincts on alert. The buildings are not far from where Officers Liu and Ramos were killed in Brooklyn.

The Fire Department temporarily moved its Engine Company 222 — located next to the 81st Precinct — to a nearby firehouse.

“There is no threat against the Fire Department,” Frank Dwyer, a department spokesman, said. “This is being done out of an abundance of caution.”

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