The NYPD was operating on “high alert” while combing social media for threats against police officers Sunday after an assassin shot and killed two cops a day earlier, when he had aired his sinister intentions online.
Police were investigating at least one other Instagram threat that echoed words written by assassin Ismaaiyl Brinsley as he headed to Brooklyn on Saturday before he executed the officers and took his own life, sources said.
“Good job … Kill em all I’m on the way to NY now #shootthepolice 2 more going down tomorrow,” posted a user identified as woodgramflexinn.
The Instagram page was later taken down. Sources say it appears the man who made the threat is in custody in Memphis, Tenn., and is being grilled by police there.
In a memo to New York City detectives, their union president, Michael Palladino, said the killing of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu as they sat in their patrol car outside a Bedford-Stuyvesant housing project was “an isolated incident.”
But, he added, “‘High Alert’ is an understatement. All of our Detectives must proceed with extreme caution while investigating your cases and engaging the public.
“Cowards such as yesterday’s killer strike when you are distracted and vulnerable.”
After shooting his ex-girlfriend Shaneka Thompson early Saturday, Brinsley ranted online about exacting revenge for the deaths of Staten Island man Eric Garner and Ferguson, Mo., teen Michael Brown during confrontations with police that sparked national protests.
“I’m putting wings on pigs today. They take 1 of ours … let’s take 2 of theirs,” Brinsley, 28, wrote on Instagram, alongside a photo of a silver handgun that he used at 2:45 p.m. Saturday to kill the officers execution style.
He also included three hashtags: ShootThePolice, RIPErivGarner (sic) and RIPMikeBrown.
“They were assassinated — targeted for their uniform,” a shaken NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said, ordering that flags be put to half-mast.
A second slay attempt on NYPD officers was narrowly avoided early Sunday when a gunman’s weapon jammed as he took aim at two cops outside a Bronx housing project, sources said.
Investigators grabbed the wannabe cop killer after he dropped his gun and ran into the Millbrook Houses on Saint Anns Ave. in Port Morris, sources said.
On Saturday afternoon, a veteran two-member team of Con Ed “troubleshooter” workers were stopped at a red light when they saw Brinsley fatally shoot the two police officers.
“They were horrified by what they witnessed,” said John Melia, spokesman for the Utility Workers Union of America, Local 1-2.
They called 911, got out of their car, and then saw Brinsley race off into the subway G line subway station at Myrtle-Willoughby Aves.
“They were watching where the shooter went,” Melia said. “They flagged down a patrol car and they led cops to the subway cop.”
It is unclear if the Con Ed workers confronted Brinsley before he ran off.
Brinsley disappeared inside the station, then shot himself in the head on a platform, police said.
“Our members our out in the city 24/7. They see just about everything that goes on. Good and bad,” Melia said. “Our guys always go further in an effort to protect citizens. That’s why they got out of their car to flag down cops.”
Ramos, 40, and Liu, 32, were in the area as part of a push to beef up cops’ presence near violence-plagued housing projects.
“The perp came out of the houses, walked up behind the car and lit them up,” a high-ranking police official told the Daily News.
On Saturday, Bratton said the two cops “were shot and killed with no warning, no provocation.”
Mayor de Blasio, who has taken heat for showing solidarity with anti-cop protesters, spoke movingly about the officers and the role they played in keeping New York City safe.
“Our hearts are heavy. We lost two good men who devoted their lives to protecting all of us,” the somber mayor said at Woodhull Hospital, flanked by Bratton, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other city leaders.
On Sunday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams asked police reform protesters to halt demonstrations until the cops are laid to rest, as a show of respect.
Shortly after the murders, some police union leaders laid blame for the killings on de Blasio.
“That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the Mayor,” Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association chief Patrick Lynch said.
“Blood is not on the hands of the mayor,” Adams said in a press conference at the site of the assassination. “Blood is on the hands of the sick person that took the life of two innocent police officers.”
Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani seemed to agree, saying in a TV appearance: “I think it goes too far to blame the mayor for the murder or to ask for the mayor’s resignation.”
But he did point a finger at President Obama.
“We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the President that everybody should hate the police,” Giuliani said on Fox News early Sunday, without offering an example of such a statement. “The protests are being embraced, the protests are being encouraged.”
De Blasio described the double murder as “an assassination” and a “despicable act.”
It “goes at the very heart of our society and our democracy,” he added. “When a police officer is murdered, it tears at the fabric of our society.”
Paramedics carried Brinsley out on a stretcher and were performing CPR. But the killer, described as a drifter who hailed from Georgia and had a recent address on Eastern Parkway, was later pronounced dead.
The same gun Brinsley showed off on his Instagram page, a silver semiautomatic Taurus, was found under his body, sources said. His car, with Maryland plates, was later discovered on Myrtle Ave. at Nostrand Ave.
The mortally wounded officers were rushed to Woodhull Hospital.
“Worst nightmare in the NYPD,” tweeted NYPD Captains Endowment Association President Roy Richter. “Incredible sadness as we mourn for our brothers and their families.”
The slayings capped a bloody daylong crime spree for Brinsley.
Hours before he showed up in Brooklyn, Brinsley shot his ex-girlfriend at about 5:45 a.m. in Owings Mills, Md., about 15 miles from Baltimore.
The 29-year-old Thompson, who was hit in the stomach, underwent surgery and was expected to survive, a family member told The News.
Hospital spokewoman Mary Lynn Carver listed her condition Sunday as critical.
Brinsley stole the woman’s phone after the shooting — and headed for New York. At some point along the way, he posted a menacing update on Facebook.
“I always wanted to be known for doing something right … but my past is stalking me and my present is haunting me,” it read.
“Why live if you don’t love to live,” he added in a second post, his last.
Brinsley also apparently bragged about shooting his ex-gal pal. On his Instagram account, he posted a photo of Army fatigues with apparent blood stains. “Never had a hot gun on your waist and blood on your shoe … N—a you ain’t been through what I been through you not like me and im not like you.”
Like a trained assassin, Brinsley snuck up to the patrol car and started firing into the passenger window — striking both officers in the head. “Officer Liu and Officer Ramos never had the opportunity to draw their weapons,” Bratton said. “They may not have ever actually seen their assailant.”
Witness Courtney Felix, 23, said he heard a volley of shots, then saw the two officers stumble out of the patrol car and crumple to the ground. “They looked like they were really hurt,” said Felix, who was at a friend’s apartment overlooking the scene. “They were struggling to get out of the car.”
Felix said the cop on the drivers’ side “was clutching his neck, catching himself and fading out” as he fell to the ground. The other cop was clutching his collarbone as he stumbled, Felix added.
Rescuers rushed to the aid of the mortally wounded officers. “They basically dragged two cops out their car,” said a witness who asked to remain anonymous. “I saw it. One was shot in the face. There was blood coming out of his face.”
Uriel Winfree, 30, said she was awakened by the sound of gunshots. Wondering what was going on, she went up to the roof to get a better vantage on the street. “There was a cop on the ground and everyone was around him,” Winfree said. “Someone was doing CPR on the cop. They put him on a stretcher and they ran him into an ambulance. They load him in and they hauled a–.
“There were like 75 cops here and a bunch ran toward the subway after the guy. There was a huge police presence there. Even undercovers were coming out of nowhere.”
Brinsley’s criminal record stretched back to at least 2004 and included a string of arrests in Georgia and Ohio. In Georgia’s Fulton County alone, Brinsley was arrested nine times over the past decade on charges including simple battery, criminal trespassing, carrying a concealed weapon, obstruction of a law enforcement officer and shoplifting, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The Rev. Al Sharpton, in a statement, said Garner’s family was incensed the killer invoked his name on social media.
“I have spoken to the Garner family and we are outraged by the early reports of the police killed in Brooklyn today,” Sharpton said. “Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases.”
Garner died after NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold in Staten Island on July 17. Brown, who was unarmed, was shot dead in Ferguson, Mo. by Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. In both cases, the victims were black and the cops were white. Grand juries did not indict either officer, sparking national protests and outrage over police treatment of minorities.
The Brown family released a statement condemning the “senseless killing of two NYPD officers.”
“We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement,” it said. “It cannot be tolerated.”
Following Saturday’s bloodshed, President Obama joined city and state pols in denouncing the double assassination. “I unconditionally condemn today’s murder of two police officers in New York City,” Obama said. “Two brave men won’t be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification.”
“This deplorable act of violence is the opposite of what New York is and what New Yorkers believe in,” Gov. Cuomo said. “Tonight, we all come together to mourn the loss of these brave souls.”
Councilman Robert Cornegy said “this couldn’t be any worse … My prayers absolutely go out to the families of the officers.”
In a tweet, Mark-Viverito said she was “truly horrified” by the crime.
Early Sunday, the NYPD sent out a safety directive to all commands, making it mandatory for officers to operate in pairs and urging officers on patrol to “maintain a heightened level of awareness.”
The slain cops are the first two NYPD officers shot and killed in the line of duty since the December 2011 murder of Peter Figoski, 47. The 22-year veteran was gunned down after responding to a botched robbery in Cypress Hills. Figoski’s killer, Lamont Pride, now 30, was sentenced to 45 years to life in prison in 2013.