Investigators converged on the crime scene Thursday on Jamaica Avenue where officers were attacked; the assailant’s body was covered in white. Credit Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
Investigators on Friday were closely examining the background of a man who attacked several police officers in Queens with a hatchet on Thursday, focusing in part on comments he made on the Internet disparaging whites and Christians and supporting violent jihad.
The man, identified by law enforcement officials as Zale H. Thompson, attacked four rookie New York City police officers as they posed for a photograph on Jamaica Avenue just after 2 p.m. Thursday, striking one in the arm and another in the head, before he was shot and killed by other officers. A stray bullet also struck a bystander in the back.
Both officers remained hospitalized on Friday, the Police Department said. Officer Kenneth Healey, 25, was in serious but stable condition with a severe wound to the back of his head. Officer Joseph Meeker, 24, who was struck in the arm, was expected to be released.
Officials have not given a motive for the assault, which occurred in the same week as two similar attacks on military personnel in different parts of Canada.
One law enforcement official said that the investigation, which is in its early stages, has uncovered rants by Mr. Thompson about the United States, along with statements expressing anger about the role of the United States military in the Middle East.
But the official said that Mr. Thompson appeared to be more of what he called “a throwback to the old black radical groups in the 1970s” rather than a traditional jihadist, though the investigation has uncovered writings or statements expressing “hatred of America, the need for revolution and the need to punish America.”
In comments on Facebook and YouTube, retrieved by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity, Mr. Thompson described white Christians as “aggressive and violent” and reproached the “Christianized negro” for following the faith “his slave master gave him.”
On a YouTube video in support of an Islamic Caliphate, a commenter named Zale Thompson made remarks seemingly sympathetic to violent jihad.
“If the Zionists and the Crusaders had never invaded and colonized the Islamic lands after WW1, then there would be no need for jihad!” the commenter wrote. “Which is better, to sit around and do nothing, or to jihad.”
Mr. Thompson, 32, had served in the Navy from February 2001 to August 2003, and was assigned to units based in Port Hueneme, Calif. Mr. Thompson does not appear to have a criminal record in New York. In 2003, he was arrested in Ventura, Calif., and pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident.
The law enforcement official gave an account of the attack, based in part on surveillance video that captured Mr. Thompson in the seconds before the attack, saying it was clear the assault was not random.
“He targeted the police officers,” the official said. “He stakes them out, on video we have, he watches them for a minute or two from the corner,” the official said, adding, “he bends over and it looks like he takes the hatchet out of a backpack and charges right at the officers.”
On Thursday evening, the New York City Police Department issued a memo to “all commands” warning officers on patrol to remain vigilant.
“Due to recent attacks against law enforcement and military personnel, both here in N.Y.C. and in Ottawa, Canada, police officers on patrol should maintain a heightened level of awareness,” the memo said.
Race resentment + Islam = hatchet attack on police?
This is from NYT, who are desperate to downplay the Islam angle. Recourse to blaming race resentment is much more to their liking since it can easily be blamed on you-know-who. Another source, The New York Post, entitled its story: Muslim convert in NYPD ax attack was pro-ISIS and called for jihad