An earlier version of this report that relied on comment from the New York Police Department said suspect Lashawn McNeil had died Friday after a firefight with police. He had been in critical condition, authorities said Saturday. This article has been updated.
McNeil was on probation for a 2003 narcotics charge and had been arrested at least five times, including once in New York, according to authorities.
“Tonight, a … son, husband, officer and friend was killed because he did what we asked him to do,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell at a news briefing that a solemn crowd of first responders also attended. “We’re mourning, and we’re angry.”
The bloody night comes after several high-profile and violent incidents in New York City in January, just weeks into Democratic Mayor Eric Adams’s term. Before Friday night’s events, two other NYPD officers had been shot this week, Adams noted on Twitter. President Biden paid homage to the fallen officer and his colleague on Saturday.
“Officers put on the badge and head into harm’s way every day,” he wrote on Twitter. “We’re grateful to them and their families for their extraordinary sacrifice.”
Officers arrived at the West Harlem apartment after a woman called police about 6:15 p.m. to report a domestic disturbance, law enforcement officials said. She did not indicate that any weapons were present. When officers arrived, she and one of her sons greeted them. McNeil, the second son, with whom the mother had an alleged dispute, was in the back bedroom at the time.
When an officer approached that room, McNeil opened fire in what officials described as an ambush. The suspect appeared to have been using a Glock 45 pistol that had been reported stolen in Baltimore in 2017.
Neither McNeil’s family nor representatives could be reached immediately for comment. New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said in a statement that her office might assert jurisdiction in the matter.
Although violent crime in the most populous U.S. city remains low by historical standards, 488 homicides were logged in 2021. That is the highest number since 2011, when 515 were recorded.
In one particularly horrific episode, on Wednesday, an 11-month-old baby in the Bronx was struck in the face by a stray bullet. During the early hours of New Year’s Day, an off-duty NYPD officer was shot while sleeping in a car as he waited to begin a shift.
Adams, who is a former NYPD officer, pledged during his mayoral campaign that he would improve public safety. On Friday, he repeated that pledge: “It is our city against the killers. This was not just an attack on three brave officers.”
The new mayor also ordered that effective immediately, all flags on New York City buildings throughout the five boroughs would be lowered to half-staff to honor Rivera, Adams’ press officer tweeted early Saturday. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said the state would support the city “in any way necessary” after the shooting.
“My heart is with Harlem, the officers and their families, and @NYPDnews after tonight’s tragic shooting,” she wrote on Twitter.
In addition to highlighting concerns about crime in New York City, the shooting also underscored the dangers officers face responding to seemingly routine domestic disturbances. A report backed by the U.S. Justice Department found that domestic dispute incidents accounted for 29 percent of 133 line-of-duty deaths involving officers responding to a call for service between 2010 and 2016.
Maria Haberfeld, a professor of police science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said such calls are “always feared by officers” — especially as illegal guns remain accessible.
“They really never know how they are going to evolve,” she said.
Adela Suliman contributed to this report.