The man who attacked a group of New York Police Department officers is believed to have acted alone, Police Commissioner assured. The man was shot dead by officers.
“We at this time believe that he acted alone. We would describe him as self-radicalized. We would describe him as self-directed in his activities.”
Bill Bratton, Police Commissioner said in a Friday statement.
The police commissioner was then asked by reporters if Zale Thompson, the man in question, could be considered a homegrown terrorist or what reporters called “a lone wolf”. At this point, investigators replied, it seems that terror was Thompson’s only intent. However, police highlighted the fact that the investigation is still in its preliminary stages.
Two officers were injured in Thursday’s assault in Queens. Officer Kenneth Healy is in critical (yet stable) condition after having suffered a head injury, while Officer Joseph Meeker is being treated for his wounded arm.
In light of the attack, Police obtained a search warrant so that further clues could be sought on Thompson’s computer. According to his social media activity, Thompson was a convert to Islam. Many comments included rants about injustices occurring in the American society as well as oppression abroad. However, there was nothing that indicated a direct connection to any of the known terror groups, investigators said.
“The common thread going through those conversations are anti-western, anti-government, and in some cases anti-white,”
John Miller, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter-terrorism said.
Miller added that in recent days, Thompson had visited:
“websites that are focused on designated terrorist groups — al-Qaida, ISIS and al-Shabaab — as well as looking at different acts of violence.”
Thursday’s attack involved Thompson charging towards the four officers with an 18-inch hatchet. The officers had been posing for a photograph by a freelance artist. One of the officers was struck in the head and another in the arm. Immediately, the two other officers opened fire, killing the attacker. Everything happened in less than 10 seconds, Bratton claims.
“Those officers exhibited extraordinary bravery and skill in not only taking down an individual who was intent on killing them but also rendering first aid immediately to their fallen comrade,”
The attack, was described by Mayor de Blasio as a vicious act by a troubled individual.
During the crossfire, a 29-year-old woman was hit by police and is now also recovering at the hospital. Her condition: critical, but stable.