A gunman fatally shot two New York police officers on Saturday to avenge the deaths of African American Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hand of the police. He then killed himself.
The killer, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, had posted messages on Instagram that clearly stated his intentions. One of them read, "They TAKE 1 Of Ours... Lets Take 2 of Theirs."
The police said Brinsley walked up to officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn and opened fire on them from point-blank range.
"It's clear that this was an assassination," New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference. "These officers were shot execution-style… it is an attack on all of us."Brinsley then ran into a nearby subway station with several police officers running after him. He was found lying on the floor with what the police said was a self-inflicted wound.
"Tonight, I ask people to reject violence and words that harm, and turn to words that heal - prayer, patient dialogue, and sympathy for the friends and family of the fallen."
Chris Rock, an influential African American actor, comedian and filmmaker tweeted, "An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind - Mahatma Gandhi."
Brown's family quickly condemned the shooting and appealed for peace. "We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement," they said in a statement.
Since a grand jury declined to prosecute a white police officer who killed Brown in Ferguson, protests have been taking place all over the country every night practically.
They have intensified after another grand jury' decided not to charge a white police officer for the death - caused by chokehold - of Eric Garner in New York city.Protestors have targeted police officers specifically, clashing with them in some instances. Others have said the criminal justice system has a race problem in general.
Before setting out for New York city, Brinsley shot his girlfriend near Baltimore in the neighbouring state of Maryland - she survived and is being treated for gunshot wounds.
Maryland police did send out an interstate alert - called "warning flier" - which was received by New York city authorities, but wasn't passed on in time.
Popular photo-sharing service Instagram took down Ismaaiyl Brinsley's account, after the 28-year-old gunman's veiled threats and provocative messages went viral in the wake of the execution-style shootings.
On Saturday, Brinsley chillingly telegraphed his intentions on Instagram. "I'm Putting Wings On Pigs Today. They Take 1 Of Ours... Let's Take 2 of Theirs," the 28-year-old Brinsley wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of a silver handgun, according to screen shots posted by other Instagram users and media including the New York Post.
According to the reports, he appended the suggestive hashtags #ShootThePolice, #RIPErivGarner and #RIPMike Brown. "This May Be My Final Post...I'm Putting Pigs In A Blanket."
Posted just hours before Brinsley allegedly walked up to two officers in a parked squad car in Brooklyn and shot them dead, the dark messages again cast a spotlight on the role of social media in spotting and revealing public threats of violence.
Instagram said it acted promptly once it became aware of Brinsley's post. "Our deepest thoughts and sympathies go out to the family and friends of the two police officers who were shot and killed in New York," said Instagram spokeswoman Alison Schumer. "There
is no place for this content within our community. It was a violation of our terms and was quickly removed."
(With Reuters inputs)