Suspect in fatal shooting of NYPD Officer Jason Rivera has died
By Travis Caldwell, Artemis Moshtaghian, Steve Almasy and Holly Yan, CNN
The suspect who allegedly shot and killed one New York Police Department officer and critically injured another died Monday, the NYPD told CNN.
Officer Jason Rivera, 22, was shot and killed while responding Friday to a domestic incident in Harlem, a city official said. A second officer, Wilbert Mora, 27, remained in critical condition, the New York Police Department said.
The suspect, Lashawn McNeil, 47, had been in critical condition at Harlem Hospital since the shooting. Police said McNeil — who had a pistol with a high-capacity magazine — was confronted by a third officer at the shooting scene after he tried to run and was struck by two bullets.
Mayor Eric Adams said Monday the suspect had another gun under his mattress.
“He could have emptied out his 40 (bullets) and still had another automatic assault weapon for every responding officer who responded,” Adams said at a news conference.
The mayor said he believed the actions of the third officer saved other lives.
Also Monday, Adams said the city would put more officers on the streets as part of a plan to fight the brutal rise in crime and gun violence in New York.
The gun used in Friday’s shooting, a Glock 45, was stolen from Baltimore in 2017 and had a magazine that can hold up to 40 additional rounds, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig.
Five NYPD officers have been shot this month, police said, with Rivera the first to lose his life. Flags on all city-administered buildings were lowered to half-staff over the weekend.
Services for Rivera will take place Thursday and Friday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York tweeted.
Rivera’s widow posted Sunday on Instagram: “Fly high my beautiful angel.”
She wrote that Saturday was supposed to be the final day of his work week and then he had three days off.
“We both waited for your RDO’s (regular days off) to spend them together. But now your soul will spend the rest of my days with me, through me, right beside me. I love you till the end of time,” she wrote.
Officer wanted to improve community relations
Rivera, who entered the police academy on November 2, 2020, according to a source with knowledge of the officer’s records, had said his first-hand experience with the controversial policy of stop and frisk and the department’s effort to bolster community relations ultimately propelled him to join the department.
“I remember one day when I witnessed my brother being stopped and frisked,” Rivera wrote in an undated letter to his commanding officer that was penned while he was in the police academy. “I asked myself, why are we being pulled over if we are in a taxi,” Rivera wrote.
Rivera had said his community of Inwood was at odds with the NYPD but soon saw the department make efforts to change its ways, according to the letter obtained by CNN.
“As time went on, I saw the NYPD pushing hard on changing the relationship between the police and the community,” Rivera wrote. “This is when I realized I wanted to be part of the men in blue; better the relationship between the community and the police.”
The policy of stop and frisk was ruled unconstitutional in 2013, and former Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped the city’s appeal of the ruling in 2014. Critics argued the practice disproportionately targeted people of color.
Rivera wrote that he was so moved by the NYPD’s effort to change that he wanted to be the first person in his family to become a police officer in what he called “the greatest police force in the world.”
“When I applied to become a police officer, I knew this was the career for me,” Rivera said.
Adams calls for federal legislation
Following Rivera’s shooting death in New York, officials there quickly announced efforts to better handle the recent spate of violent crimes. The city’s crime rate has risen in recent months, and though not near the rate of the early 1990s, the crime rate in November — the most recent month for which the city has released data — jumped by 21.3% from the same period last year, per the NYPD.
An interstate task force of federal, state and local law enforcement representatives from nine Northeastern states is due to meet Wednesday to work on how to curb the flow of illegal firearms, according to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office.
Adams on Monday also called for federal lawmakers to pass “common-sense legislation.”
He said Congress must pass universal background checks and make gun trafficking a federal crime. He also wants lawmakers to increase penalties for people convicted of moving guns across state lines or in cases where someone buys a gun for someone who cannot pass a background check as a “straw purchase.”
“We must see immediate action from Congress on guns,” he said.
Another subway attack
The city also is dealing with recent attacks in the subway system. On Sunday, a 62-year-old man suffered minor injuries after being pushed onto subway tracks in Lower Manhattan, according to the NYPD.
The victim, who made contact with the lead train car while on the tracks, was taken to a hospital where he was treated for a leg laceration, police said. No arrests have been made, and the investigation is ongoing, the NYPD said. The victim was not named publicly.
Sunday’s incident followed a similar one on January 15 in which a 40-year-old woman was killed after being pushed in front of an oncoming subway train. It was a random attack, and the suspect was charged with second-degree murder after he turned himself in less than an hour later, police said.
On New Year’s Day, a good Samaritan died while trying to help a man who fell onto subway tracks during a gang assault.
“These incidents are unacceptable and have to stop,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said in a statement.
“I don’t want to tell people that they should stand on subway platforms and feel like they’re, you know, in threat of their lives,” Lieber said Sunday in an interview with CNN affiliate WABC. “But everybody should stand away from the edge of the platform.”
The city will work to partner mental health professionals with police personnel in responding to the subway system incidents, Adams said.
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CNN’s Laura Ly, Mark Morales, Brynn Gingras, Shimon Prokupecz, Kiely Westhoff, Rob Frehse, Dakin Andone, Daniel Allman, Aya Elamroussi and Niah Humphrey contributed to this report.