A city reeling from a recent spate of violence has prepared to bury a rookie police officer hailed as an inspiration to its immigrant community, as investigators seek to make sense of a domestic dispute which left another officer “fighting for his life”.
New York Police Officer Jason Rivera’s funeral was being finalized as his comrades in blue mourned the loss of the 22-year-old who joined the force to make a difference in what he described as a “chaotic city”.
A solemn scene unfolded on Sunday with a column of uniformed police, along with a line of firefighters, flanking the streets as a hearse carrying the deceased officer left the medical examiner’s office.
Rivera and Officer Wilbert Mora were shot Friday night while responding to a call about an argument between a woman and her adult son. Mora, 27, suffered a serious head injury, police said.
During a Sunday morning appearance on CNN, Mayor Eric Adams stressed the urgency “to address the underlying issues that impact crime in our city and have become a stain on downtown areas across our city. country”.
He said his police force would reorganize an undercover anti-crime unit aimed at getting guns off the streets. The unit had been disbanded in 2020 over fears it accounted for a disproportionate number of shootings and complaints.
“The symbol of this red bloodstained coat is really what we’re talking about here not just in New York, but across America,” Adams said.
The medical examiner ruled Rivera’s death a homicide after an autopsy revealed he died of gunshot wounds to the head and torso.
Mora, who has worked for the NYPD for four years, remains in life-threatening condition, Adams said Sunday. Police said he will be transferred from Harlem Hospital to NYU Langone Medical Center.
“It really impacted our whole city, if not the whole country. And it comes after five officers were shot, the 11-month-old baby shot dead in Brooklyn,” the mayor said.
The shooting is the latest in a string of crimes that have angered the nation’s most populous city and the nation’s largest police force, with 36,000 officers.
In the three weeks since Adams took office, a 19-year-old cashier was shot while working late at night at a Burger King, a woman was shoved to death at a gas station underground and a baby was seriously injured. injured by a stray bullet while in a parked car with her mother. With the Harlem shooting on Friday night, four police officers had been shot in as many days.
Police say the man opened fire on Friday, Lashawn J. McNeil, 47, was also seriously injured and hospitalized.
Details of what led to the deadly confrontation were still emerging.
Officials said a woman who made an emergency call on Friday said she was ill and her son who had come to look after her had become “problematic”. Adams said the woman did not specify the issue.
Authorities said three officers attended the apartment after the call. Officers spoke with the woman and another son, but there was no mention of a weapon, police said.
After Rivera and Mora walked from the front of the apartment down a narrow hallway to check on McNeil, he opened a bedroom door and began shooting, police said. Both officers were shot before they could draw their weapons and defend themselves, police said.
As McNeil tried to flee, a third officer who had stayed with McNeil’s mother outside the apartment shot McNeil and wounded him in the head and arm, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said.
McNeil was convicted of drugs in 2003 in New York. He also had several out-of-state arrests. In 1998 he was arrested in South Carolina on suspicion of illegally carrying a gun, but records show the case was later dropped. In 2002 he was arrested in Pennsylvania on suspicion of assaulting a police officer, Essig said.
McNeil was married but the couple separated nearly two decades ago, according to Theresa Noa, who is married to his ex-wife’s brother. She said McNeil had four children from this marriage.
Police said the weapon used in Friday’s shooting, a .45-caliber Glock pistol with a high-capacity drum magazine capable of holding up to 40 additional rounds, was stolen in Baltimore in 2017.
On Sunday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced that a multi-state task force would meet on Wednesday to begin working to stem the flow of illegal weapons, which she and Adams accuse of gun violence. fire.
“Too many lives have been lost to illegal firearms that should never have been on our streets,” she said.
More than 50 agencies from nine northeastern states are participating, she said.
Hochul cited NYPD data tracing nearly 4,500 illegal firearms as originating out of state, mostly southern states that generally have more lax gun laws.
Adams, a former NYPD captain, joined the governor in calling on the federal government to do more to collect stolen weapons like the one used in Friday’s shooting.
Rivera joined the force in November 2020.
Growing up in Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood, he noticed tensions with the police, according to a brief essay titled “Why I Became a Policeman,” a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.
In this essay, Rivera wrote that he was embarrassed to see his brother stopped and searched. But his attitude changed when he also saw how the ministry was trying to improve relations with communities.
“I realized how much my role as a police officer would have an impact in this chaotic city,” he wrote.
Associated Press writer Michael R. Sisak contributed to this report.