A rookie New York City police officer has been shot and killed and his partner is fighting for his life after responding to a domestic violence call in Harlem.
Jason Rivera, 22, who grew up only five miles from the shooting and signed up a little over a year ago, in November 2020, died in the attack. His partner Wilbert Mora, who joined the NYPD in 2018, is currently fighting for his life.
Multiple police sources initially said both had died.
Police released a photo of the gun used by McNeil, captioned: ‘Below is a picture of the gun used to shoot our officers’
The gunman, Lashawn J. McNeil, 47 – who was out on probation at the time – was shot and injured by a third officer, after he tried to flee the house. He was in surgery on Friday night.
Eric Adams, the mayor of New York – an ex NYPD officer, who only took office three weeks ago – angrily declared at the Harlem hospital that the violence must stop.
‘It is our city against the killers,’ he said.
‘This is not just an attack on three brave officers. This was an attack on the city of New York.’
The officers’ deaths are the first under Adams, who was elected in part to combat the city’s surging crime, and the first shooting deaths of an NYPD officer since July 2017.
They are the fourth and fifth officers shot so far this year – by comparison, last year, a total of 10 police officers were shot in the entire state of New York.
Patrick Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, the largest municipal police union in the world representing 50,000 active and retired officers, excoriated the city’s leaders for not doing enough.
Lynch has been highly critical of the new Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, who announced on taking office at the beginning of the month that he would not prosecute certain crimes.
Lynch said on January 4 that he had ‘serious concerns about the message these types of policies send to both police officers and criminals on the street.’
On Friday night, he was furious, and pointed the finger firmly at Bragg and his policies.
‘Our hearts are broken, we’re in shock, our knees are buckling,’ he said.
‘And we’re angry, because we’ve been here before.
‘We’re angry, because we saw it coming.
‘We’re angry, because we said it would happen – and it happened again.’
Devastating footage showed the officers’ colleagues rushing them to hospital after McNeil – who has been arrestd in three states – opened fire, using a stolen Glock 9mm gun, which was recovered at the scene.
Jason Rivera (left), 22, who joined the NYPD a little over a year ago, was shot and killed on Friday night and his partner Wilbert Mora, who signed up in 2018, was in critical condition
Lashawn J. McNeil, 47, opened fire on the officers, and was shot in the arm and head. He was undergoing surgery on Friday night. He was out on probation at the time following a New York narcotics arrest, and had four previous arrests in two other states
Eric Adams, mayor of New York City, is seen on Friday night addressing the press and crowds of police officers at Harlem hospital
Patrick Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, urged all New Yorkers to attend Rivera’s funeral, in a show of support for the NYPD
A large crowd of NYPD officers gathered to hear Adams, Lynch and the NYPD Commissioner speak on Friday at Harlem hospital
NYPD officers gather at Harlem Hospital after the shooting on Friday night
Members of NYPD are seen inside Harlem Hospital on Friday night
Officers stand on the steps of the hospital awaiting news of their colleague
Police officers are pictured on the scene in Harlem, where two officers were shot and one killed
The officers were responding to a domestic violence call on Friday night
The shooting is the first death of a members of the NYPD since Eric Adams took over as mayor on January 1
A police officer stands guard on the corner of the street in Harlem
Rivera, Mora and a third officer were called to a domestic violence incident at around 5:10pm on Friday.
The mother, Nadine McNeil, a former corrections officer who worked in the Bronx, called police claiming her 47-year-old son was threatening her.
He was well known to officers, who were last called to the house on a domestic violence call in August.
McNeil had previously been arrested in New York in 2003 on felony narcotic charges, and was out on probation.
He also had four other arrests in two different states.
In 1998, he was arrested in South Carolina for the unlawful possession of a weapon.
In Pennsylvania, where his registered address was, in Allentown, he was arrested in 2002 for assaulting a police officer.
He was also arrested twice in Pennsylvania in 2003 – once on a felony narcotics charge, and once on a misdemeanor narcotics charge.
Nadine McNeil, the mother of Lashawn McNeil, was a captain in the corrections department. She called police on Friday evening after her son became violent and threatening
Nadine McNeil is seen with her husband Seth McNeil. She called 911 when her son Lashawn became violent
Adams was flanked by Patrick Lynch, head of New York’s largest police union, as he spoke
Keechant Sewell, the commissioner of New York police, said she was ‘struggling to find the words for the tragedy we are enduring’
When the three officers arrived at the McNeil house, the mother was in a front room with another son. She said that her threatening son was in the back room, and so Rivera and Mora approached the room along a narrow 30-foot hallway.
The third officer remained with Nadine McNeil and her other son.
When Rivera and Mora got close, McNeil opened fire, shooting both officers.
He made a dash for the door, but was shot by the third officer in the right arm and head.
McNeil is alive and hospitalized in critical condition, NYPD spokesperson Lt. John Grimpel said, correcting earlier reports that he had been killed.
Police recovered a Glock 9mm gun at the scene, which they said had been stolen in Baltimore in 2017.
Police audio reveals the moment the gunfight broke out, with multiple shots heard being fired.
‘Shots fired,’ one says, and sirens can be heard in the background. ‘Cop shot. We need additional units.’
The dispatcher was then desperately asking nearby units to clear the street, and clear a route for the ambulances.
‘Two officers shot,’ another says. ‘We are bringing NYs to the hospital. Have units to back up.’
The officers were taken to Harlem Hospital.
‘Due to a police incident, avoid the area of West 135 Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd and Malcolm X Blvd. in Manhattan,’ the NYPD said.
‘Use an alternate route when traveling nearby and expect a police presence in the surrounding area.’
It was the third incident in less than 72 hours involving NYPD officers getting shot in the line of duty, following an incident in the Bronx late on Tuesday night and another officer shot early Thursday morning on Staten Island.
The officer in the Bronx, Officer Kaseem Pennant, who was shot in the leg while scuffling with a teenage suspect, has already been released from the hospital.
Detective Dominick M. Libretti, shot through the door and hit in the leg while serving a search warrant for drugs in Staten Island, underwent surgery at the hospital, where he was recovering. He was said to be in stable condition, but his injury was serious.
On January 1, Officer Keith Wagenhauser was shot in the head in his patrol car by a stray bullet, while sitting outside a Bronx precinct. He has been released from hospital.
Rivera, who grew up in the Inwood district of Manhattan – five miles from where he was shot and killed – said he wanted to join the New York Police Department to improve community relations, and help people.
‘Coming from an immigrant family, I will be the first to say that I am a member of the NYPD – the greatest police force in the world,’ he wrote on his application form.
‘Growing up in New York City, I knew how impactful my role as a police officer would go in this chaotic city of about 10 million people.
‘I know that something as small as helping a tourist with directions, or helping a couple resolve an issue, would put a smile on someone’s face.’
He also said that, as a child, he saw that ‘the community’s relationship between the police and the community was not great’.
He said his brother was pulled over and searched, and he was confused and upset as to why they were targeted.
He then saw the NYPD trying to reform, and he wanted to be part of the change.
‘This is when I realized that I wanted to be part of the men in blue; better the relationship between the community and the police.’
Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, who has been accused of being soft on crime for saying he will not prosecute certain crimes, said it was a ‘horrible tragedy’.
‘This is a horrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to the officers, their families and the entire NYPD,’ he said.
‘The officers who serve and protect us risk their lives every day. Violence against police cannot be tolerated.’
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell denounced the spate of violence against the New York Police Department.
‘Countless officers lined this hallway after carrying him in and grieve for their brother while praying with everything they have for the other’ officer, Sewell said.
‘I am struggling to find the words to express the tragedy we are enduring. We’re mourning, and we’re angry.’
Adams said enough was enough.
Crime is up 35 percent since Eric Adams took over as mayor of New York City
Overall crime is up 35 percent in the Big Apple
‘We must save this city together. That is what we must do,’ he said, speaking at the Harlem hospital.
‘The unification of fighting this battle goes beyond rhetoric.
‘It is time for us to save our city.’
Adams said that more must be done to stop weapons flooding in to New York City, where legally obtaining a gun is complicated by design.
‘Let me be clear. There are no gun manufacturers in New York City. We don’t make guns here,’ he said.
‘How are we removing thousands of guns off the street and they still find their way onto the streets, and into the hands of killers?
‘We need Washington to join us and act now to stop the flow of guns into New York City, and cities like New York.’
Adams demanded that the federal government do more to end the bloodshed.
‘We are all witnesses. We have witnessed these murders and the failure on the federal level to stop the flow of guns into the city,’ he said.
‘We are not going to live under the gun of these dangerous people.’
He urged the police not to ‘give up on this city’, telling the saddened and angry officers that they should ignore criticism on social media, and continue to protect the residents.
‘Don’t give up on these people in this city,’ he said. ‘Don’t give up.
‘Don’t think they don’t want you to do your job.
‘Twitter and Instagram – they are not the people of this city.
‘We are going to protect our city. That’s our promise and commitment.’
Lynch, the union chief, urged New Yorkers to attend the funeral of Rivera, when it is announced, saying that the police need the support.
Lynch on January 4 said that he was worried about the new Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg, and his ‘soft on crime’ policies
‘We carried our brother here,’ he said.
‘We shouldered him in. And we’ll shoulder him out.
‘But it can’t be us alone.
‘We will bow our heads in sadness. But we need you too.
‘The streets can’t just be full of New York City police officers at this funeral.
‘The public has to come.
‘The public has to send a message to anyone that dares to harm a New York City police officer: not here, not now, not today, not to us.
‘We’re humbly asking you to come out and help us.’
Adams, 61, retired from the police force as a captain after 22 years and entered politics in 2006.
His predecessor, Bill de Blasio – a Democrat, like Adams – had a torrid relationship with police, and towards the end of his second term suffered relentless attacks from police unions, who felt he had failed them.
Adams, by contrast, presented himself as being tough on crime while also respecting human rights. He strongly rebuffed calls from progressives to defund the police – de Blasio in July 2020 had cut $1 billion from the NYPD budget, further infuriating officers.
Adams campaigned on the claim that his experience, both as an officer and as someone who was ‘assaulted by police officers,’ has helped him better understand the situation.
However, Adams has also been criticized for saying that some controversial tactics, including ‘stop-and-frisk,’ can help police officers on the job.
‘I became a police officer, I understand crime, and I also understand police abuse,’ he declared after winning the city’s hard-fought Democratic primary in July 2021.
‘And I know how we can turn around not only New York, but America. We’re in a terrible place, and we can turn this country, this city, around.’
Adams said he ran for mayor to ‘turn pain into purpose’ as many feel they have been ‘betrayed’ by leadership.
‘My fellow New Yorkers, that betrayal stops on January 1,’ he said. ‘We are going to make a difference.’
Yet he has had a difficult first three weeks in office.
In the past week alone he has attended a vigil for a 40-year-old Deloitte executive murdered by a homeless man who shoved her into the path of an oncoming subway train, in Times Square, and traveled to the scene of a Bronx shooting, where a baby girl was shot in the face.
He has also been confronted with the killing of a 19-year-old woman who was shot by a robber while working at an East Harlem Burger King.
Adams tweeted at the time that he would not ‘surrender the city’.
The last NYPD officer fatally shot in the line of duty, Brian Mulkeen, was hit by friendly fire while struggling with an armed man after chasing and shooting at him in the Bronx in September 2019.
Mulkeen’s death came about seven months after Det. Brian Simonsen was killed by friendly fire while he and other officers were confronting a robbery suspect at a cell phone store in Queens.
In 2017, Officer Miosotis Familia was ambushed by a gunman as she wrote in a notebook in a mobile command post. In 2016, Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo was killed in a gunfight with a man who’d broken into his estranged wife’s home.
In 2015, Officer Randolph Holder was shot and killed by a man riding a stolen bicycle in Manhattan and Officer Brian Moore died after he was shot by a man in Queens.
The year before, Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were fatally shot by a man who ambushed them as they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn.