Outside an emergency room in New York City, dozens of police officers saluted and stood in perfect formation Monday as bagpipes blared in the distance.
But they weren’t mourning a loss. They were celebrating another NYPD officer who survived what the police called a “premeditated assassination attempt.”
Lt. Jose Gautreaux walked out of the hospital with his left arm in a sling. He’s one of two officers shot over the weekend in a pair of attacks against police in the Bronx.
Officer Paul Stroffolino, the other officer who was shot, was released from a hospital Sunday. As he left the emergency room in a wheelchair, his neck bandaged, fellow officers erupted in applause.
“Despite being shot in the chin & neck last night, Police Officer Stroffolino goes home today, giving his fellow officers — & everyone we serve — an inspirational thumbs-up,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted.
“We thank him for his heroic service to our city, and wish him a speedy recovery.”
While the officers recover, the man accused of shooting them was expected to be arraigned Monday.
The suspect is Robert Williams, a 45-year-old Bronx resident, a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the situation told CNN.
He’s accused of shooting at NYPD officers sitting in a van Saturday and opening fire inside a precinct Sunday. The suspect told investigators he carried out the attacks because he hates cops, a law enforcement official told CNN.
Williams appeared in Bronx Criminal Court Monday where he did not enter a plea and was remanded to custody. He has been charged with two counts of first degree attempted murder in connection with the Saturday shooting and 11 counts of first degree attempted murder in connection with the Sunday shooting. Williams is also being charged with one count of second degree attempted murder for the city employee present during Sunday’s shooting.
Attorney Thomas Klein is representing Williams. CNN has reached out to Klein for comment, but has not heard back.
Williams’ case will be presented to a grand jury Friday.
Suspect had a record
In the pair of attacks, two officers were shot but survived.
“This is not a crime gone bad. This is not a liquor store robbery interrupted, that a tragedy erupts from. This is a premeditated assassination attempt,” Shea said.
New York Mayor Bill de Blaso agreed.
“This was an attempt to assassinate police officers,” de Blasio said. “We need to use that word because it was a premeditated effort to kill, and not just to kill other human beings, but to kill those who wear a uniform that represents all of us.”
Police said the suspect had been arrested and convicted in 2002 for attempted murder. In that incident, he shot a person, carjacked a woman, crashed that vehicle and then entered into a gunfight with police officers, Shea said.
He was paroled in 2017, but he has since had one recorded arrest and had a scheduled court appearance in the coming days for that arrest, Shea said.
How each shooting unfolded
In the Saturday night shooting, a gunman came up to the two officers sitting in a van with its emergency lights on and asked a question, Shea said. When an officer answered, the shooter pulled out a gun and fired multiple times without provocation, he said.
Shea said the officer in the driver’s seat yelled, ‘Gun!’ when the shooter pulled out a weapon. Neither of the officers returned fire, Shea said.
The officer in the driver’s seat was hit in the neck and chin area, narrowly missing the carotid artery, Shea said. The officers were able to drive off, and the suspect fled the scene.
In the Sunday morning incident, the suspect walked into the precinct, immediately pulled out a gun and fired multiple shots toward the desk area, where several uniformed members were, Shea said.
The suspect then walked into an area beside the desk and fired several more rounds, but those shots didn’t hit anyone.
Shea said the suspect was then taken into custody and the gun, a 9 mm Sig Sauer, was secured by police. The incident was captured on video inside the precinct station.
Shea said the attacks reminded him of the 2014 murders of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu as they sat in their patrol car.
In both situations, he said, the attacks came not long after public protests against police practices in the city. Protests against the policing of subway fare evasion January 31 led to the arrests of 13 people, CNN affiliate WCBS reported.
“Just remember these things are not unrelated,” Shea said. “We have people marching in New York City last week and I condemned it and I condemn it right here again today — using profanities against the Police Department.”
“Everyone should be speaking out against this, and you have to be careful about the words you use, whether it’s on social media or on written papers or speaking,” the police commissioner said. “Because words matter, and words affect people’s behavior.”