Two rookie cops with the NYPD were injured, one critically, after a man on a New York City sidewalk in Queens went on an unprovoked hatchet attack on Oct. 23, seriously wounding one officer in the head and cutting another officer in his arm as the second officer raised his arm to defend himself. Also injured in the ensuing melee was an innocent bystander in the area hit by police friendly fire after two other cops already on the scene started shooting at the hatchet wielding attacker. The man with the hatchet was identified by CNN as 32-year-old Zale H. Thompson.
Thompson died at the scene in a hail of police gunfire. The officer who took the hatchet blow to the head, identified as Officer Kenneth Healey, is listed in critical condition in a hospital in Queens.
Healy and three other NYPD officers were posing for a photo on a city sidewalk yesterday afternoon when Thompson, who “was hiding behind a bus shelter as if he was waiting to attack the officers,” just came after the cops and started swinging that hatchet. Another law enforcement official stated that it appeared is if Thompson was stalking the four rookie officers.
Healey, 28, was struck in the back of the head. Officer Joseph Meeker, 24, was struck in the arm. The remaining two officers fired at Thompson, killing him.
In the chaos, one of the officer’s bullets struck a nearby pedestrian in her lower back. Bratton said she was recovering in surgery Thursday evening.
The hatchet attack occurring so close to the shooting incident in Canada where one soldier was shot and killed at the National War Memorial in Ottawa “by a gunman with ‘connections’ to jihadists,” is now raising questions as to whether or not Thompson had any ties to radical groups. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said that, for now, “there is nothing we know as of this time that would indicate that were the case.”
CBS News reported that police, armed with a warrant, were searching through Thompson’s computer looking for clues and a possible motive as to why he went after the officers. Witness’ accounts who were in the area at the time of the attack, as well as video surveillance gleaned from the area, “appeared to leave no doubt that Thompson purposely targeted four rookie officers,” according to the NYPD.
Investigators have already been able to determine that Thompson was a convert to Islam. Although his social media footprint includes “rants about injustices in American society and oppression abroad,” police are saying that there is no concrete tie between the hatchet attacker and any terrorist groups. For more on the story and a possible terrorist link to yesterday’s hatchet attack in Queens, see the video accompanying this article.