The NYPD are reportedly investigating whether Islamic extremism may have played a part in Thursday afternoon’s hatchet attack on four police officers.
Officers shot and killed a man identified as Zale Thompson, 32, of Queens, who fractured the skull of Officer Kenneth Haeley, 25, at about 2 p.m. in the Jamaica section of Queens while Haeley was posing in a picture with three of his colleagues. Videotape and witness accounts show Thompson intentionally targeted the four rookie officers. Thompson was seen just minutes before the attack pulling out a hatchet from his backpack and then began attacking the officers, cutting a second cop on the arm before he was fatally shot, the New York Post reported.
“There’s nothing we know at this time that would indicate that [Islamic terrorism] is the case,” NYPD Commissioner William Bratton told reporters during a press conference at Jamaica Hospital. “That’s what the investigation will attempt to determine.”
Haeley remains in critical but stable condition, police said Friday. A 29-year-old bystander was struck in the back by a stray bullet but remains in stable condition, police told the Post. The second injured cop, Officer Joseph Meeker, is also in stable condition.
Thompson, whose Facebook page includes a passage from the Koran and a photograph of a masked militant, is being investigation for possible connections to terrorism.
“There are suspected terror ties,” a source told the newspaper.
Thompson, who served in the Navy from February 2001 to August 2003, allegedly called for a revolution on American soil on his Facebook page, but the messages have since been taken down.
“America’s military is strong abroad, but they have never faced an internal mass revolt,” Thompson posted on the social media site. “They are weaker at home. We are scattered and decentralized, we can use this as an advantage. They are centralized and strong, which can be exploited as a weakness. Think of a swarm of bees (negroes) that surround and attack an elephant (America) to death.”
Thompson was described as a “very educated” proponent of “black power” and a graduate of the college of New Rochelle in Harlem, a classmate who asked not to be identified told the Post.
Former neighbors at Thompson’s Brooklyn address, however, described that he had “become weird” and argumentative in recent months prior to moving to Jamaica earlier this year.
Sources told the Post that Thompson gripped the hatchet with two hands – like a baseball bat – and swung the weapon three times. The first swung sliced the Meeker’s arm, while the second was a miss. The third connected with the back of Haeley’s head, sources said.
“The cops yelled, ‘Drop it!'” witness Larry Bethune told the newspaper. “He raised his arm up high and brought it straight down on the cop’s head.”
NY Hatchet Attack On 4 Officers May Be Linked to Terrorism