Tantania Alexander, 23, is a volunteer EMT for the Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps. She responded Saturday to a shooting on the corner of Myrtle and Tompkins Avenues. Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were sitting in their patrol car when 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley approached the passenger-side front window and fired several rounds at point-blank range. Brinsley ran to a nearby subway stop, police said, and killed himself with a semiautomatic pistol.
Liu and Ramos never drew their weapons. They died hours later in a Brooklyn hospital, the first NYPD officers to be killed in the line of duty since 2011.
Alexander, who attended a Sunday vigil for Liu and Ramos, wept describing the officers’ final moments:
“The first thing I saw was the car. Two officers were inside. We opened the door, and the officers were just slumped over. It was so hard to look at them like that.
I went to the driver [Ramos.] I tried to get him to talk to me. In class, they teach you the body works in mysterious ways. You never know what could happen until you’re in the situation. He wouldn’t talk.
My team put him in the ambulance. The fire department came and helped the passenger [Liu]. I got [Ramos] out of the car… My partner helped with stabilization. We put him on a stretcher. We put a collar on him, a headband on him. My partner started CPR.
I walked around the police car, to the passenger side. I noticed [Liu] wasn’t breathing. I told police officers there to take him out, put him on his back. I started CPR. In the back of my mind, I knew I had to get back to my patient [Ramos]. It was a lot. A lot.
Firefighters started doing compressions on [Liu]. I know I have to take off with [Ramos]. I put him in the back of the ambulance. Sealed his wounds. Bagged him. We arrived at the hospital. We brought him inside. There were police cars everywhere, blocking the entrance. We put him in the operating room. I was winded. I couldn’t do it anymore.
I’m live in Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy, close to where the shooting happened. I got into this to save lives. At 23, you’ve gone through some things in your own life… You never imagine you’d be responding to a scene like this.
Things have to change, fast. And if they don’t we’re going to be in trouble.”