New York Times
May 4, 2015


Brian Moore, New York Police Officer Shot in the Head, Dies

By J. DAVID GOODMAN and AL BAKER

Officer Brian Moore followed his father into the New York Police Department, rose to the ranks of an elite plainclothes unit tasked with confronting the city’s most dangerous street crime and died on Monday, two days after a gunman opened fire on him in Queens.

At the time that Officer Moore, 25, was shot on Saturday evening, he was still young enough to be living in the Long Island home of his father, Raymond. Yet he was seasoned enough in the job he had been drawn to since childhood to have earned accolades from superiors and departmental medals for “meritorious” police work. He had made over 150 arrests since joining the department in July 2010.

“In his very brief career, he already proved himself to be an exceptional young officer,” the police commissioner, William J. Bratton, said in announcing Officer Moore’s death, outside Jamaica Hospital Medical Center on Monday.

“I did not know this officer in person in life,” Mr. Bratton added. “I’ve only come to know him in death.”

Officer Moore’s death plunged the nation’s largest police force into mourning for the second time in six months. Though his wounds were grave from the moment the gunman’s bullet struck his face, officials had held out hope that he might survive. But on Monday his family made the decision to remove him from life support, prompting an outpouring of grief.

Shortly after Officer Moore’s death, the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said the charges against the man accused of opening fire, Demetrius Blackwell, 35, would be elevated to include first-degree murder.

“We lost one of the best amongst us, a young man who was called to do good for others,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference at Police Headquarters. “This was his dream because he had seen such extraordinary examples in his own family.”

At a time of low crime in the city and a national debate over deadly police actions, officials said Officer Moore’s death was as a reminder of the dangers inherent in everyday situations officers encounter. The shooting erupted in an instant as the officers tried to question a man they deemed suspicious.

It differed, in that respect, from the targeted killing of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in December by a man who linked his actions to protests over police killings of unarmed black men in Missouri and on Staten Island. The police have said that no such political motive existed for Mr. Blackwell, whom they described as a “professional criminal.”

“Policing is never easy,” Mr. Bratton said at the news conference. “At this time in America, it’s even more difficult.”

For city officers, the story of the Moores was the story of many police families. Not only Officer Moore’s father but also his uncle and his cousin were New York City officers. Officer Moore grew up on Long Island, in a middle-class neighborhood filled with city workers. He attended a public high school, Plainedge, whose athletic field was named for Edward R. Byrne, another alumnus who followed his father into the city’s Police Department and was fatally shot on duty in Queens as a 22-year-old rookie in 1988.

“Officer Moore was very proud of his father and uncle, and they were very proud of him,” said Lawrence Byrne, the deputy commissioner of legal matters and the brother of Edward Byrne.

Officer Moore worked in a department where his family name preceded him in some of the highest ranks. Mr. Byrne knew Raymond Moore as a high school classmate at Plainedge High School, in North Massapequa; James P. O’Neill, the chief of department, worked with him in the warrants squad in the 1990s and on Monday called the Moores a “terrific family.”

On Monday, about 1,000 people attended a candlelight vigil on the athletic field to honor Officer Moore, the local schools superintendent said, and “remember the dedicated, courageous and kind young man he was.”

The crowd — including officers, friends, family and classmates of Officer Moore — filled two sets of metal bleachers and overflowed onto the field. Most were dressed in blue to support the police.

Speakers referred to the Moore family’s strong ties to law enforcement, and there were calls to toughen laws regarding violent parolees.

Among those who attended was Mike Cerullo, a New York police detective who grew up three blocks from Officer Moore and helped to pull him out of the unmarked police car after he was shot. “It was devastating,” he said. Detective Cerullo said Officer Moore had wanted to be a plainclothes officer and that he had assisted him in becoming one.

“He was a great kid,” the detective said. “I can’t say a bad thing about him. He always had a smile on his face.”

It was about 6:15 p.m. on Saturday when Officer Moore steered his unmarked police sedan toward a man whom he and his partner observed walking on a quiet street in Queens Village and adjusting his waistband in what the police said was a suspicious manner.

They pulled up behind him and as they began talking to him, the police said, the man turned and fired at the car. Officer Moore was struck in the cheek and had trauma to his brain, officials said. Officer Moore’s partner, Officer Erik Jansen, was not hit.

Ninety minutes after the shooting, officers arrested Mr. Blackwell at a house within view of the scene of the gunfire, near the corner of 212th Street and 104th Road. He had discarded the weapon, the police said, and tried to mix into a crowd of curious neighbors as heavily armed officers went house to house.

For more than a day, officers searched the backyards and rooftops for the gun used in the shooting. It was found by detectives on Monday morning under a box near a grill in a backyard that officials said was along the short route they suspected Mr. Blackwell took after the shooting. The gun, a silver .38-caliber, five-shot revolver, had two live rounds and three expended rounds.

The police said three .38-caliber rounds were fired at the officers, two striking their car and one hitting Officer Moore.

The gun was among 23 reported stolen in October 2011 from Little’s Bait & Tackle Pawn Shop in Perry, Ga., the police said. Nine of those weapons, including the revolver, have been recovered in New York City, and another in Rhode Island.

On Monday afternoon, hundreds of officers looked on as an ambulance carrying Officer Moore’s body left the hospital and headed to the morgue. Distraught relatives placed their hands on the vehicle. Along the route, firefighters at every station stood and saluted. At the morgue, a sea of blue formed.

Still others converged on the gray Cape Cod-style home where Officer Moore lived in North Massapequa. This week, thousands will gather for the familiar rituals of a police goodbye.

John Surico and Rebecca White contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on May 5, 2015, on page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: ‘Exceptional’ Officer Dies From a Gunshot Wound