Newsday
October 24, 2014


Two NYPD officers from Long Island injured in hatchet attack on Queens street

By NICOLE FULLER  nicole.fuller@newsday.com

   
(Credit: Rudy Escamilla)  

New York City police shot and killed a hatchet-wielding man on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014 after he attacked a group of patrol officers without warning in a busy commercial district in Queens.

 

Two rookie NYPD officers from Long Island were injured, one critically, when a man struck them with a metal hatchet on a Queens street Thursday afternoon, before cops opened fire, killing the attacker and wounding a female bystander, authorities said.

The assailant struck Officer Kenneth Healey, 25, in the head with the hatchet after swinging it at Officer Joseph Meeker, 24, striking him in the arm, Police Commissioner William Bratton said during a news conference Thursday with Mayor Bill de Blasio at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where both officers were being treated.

On Friday morning, Healey was listed in critical but stable condition, according to the NYPD.

Meeker was treated and released from the hospital, police said Friday morning.

Two police officers standing with Healey and Meeker at the time of the attack then fired multiple times, killing the man and wounding the woman, Bratton said. A law enforcement source identified the suspect in the ambush-style attack as Zale Thompson, 32. His most current address was unclear Thursday.

Bratton said the woman, 29, was shot once in the back and underwent surgery at Jamaica Hospital. She remained in stable condition Friday, hours after the attack, which Bratton said had no known motive, Bratton said.

Reports Thursday night said investigators were looking into whether the attack was connected to calls by terrorists to attack law enforcement personnel, a day after a gunman shot and killed a Canadian soldier in Ottawa.

Asked earlier about possible terrorism, Bratton said, "There is nothing we know as of this time that would indicate that were the case. I think certainly the heightened concern is relative to that type of assault based on what just happened in Canada."

The four uniformed officers -- on foot patrol with the 103rd Precinct on Jamaica Avenue near 162nd Street -- had just assembled for a group picture at the request of a freelance photographer when the attacker struck "with a hatchet in his hand . . . and not speaking a word," Bratton said.

In video footage released by the NYPD, the man is seen running on the rain-slicked street, raising the hatchet with both hands and swinging it forward, like a baseball bat, before disappearing from view.

He appeared to have a dark beard and wore a loosefitting light-green jacket with a hood or hat as he charged toward the unsuspecting lawmen. On his way, he passed a pedestrian walking the other way who wheeled around to watch him sprint past with the hatchet.

He first swung at Meeker, striking him in the arm. Before the stunned group of officers could contain him, the attacker swung the hatchet again, this time slamming it down on Healey's head, Bratton said. Healey fell to the ground and the two other officers opened fire.

PBA President Patrick Lynch said the officers' "training kicked in and they immediately responded, and took control of the situation, even though one of their partners was laying on the ground seriously injured."

With Kevin Deutsch, Candice Ruud and Gary Dymski