Cop killer Lashawn McNeil’s anti-government rantings were all over the map and seem unmoored from any coherent ideology, say NYPD officials looking into his background.
“We don’t fully understand him,” a high-ranking NYPD official said of McNeil, 47, who ambushed and fatally shot Officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora as they responded to a domestic violence call at his mother’s apartment Friday. Another responding officer returned fire at McNeil, mortally wounding him.
His social media history, including posts about the “Moorish sovereign citizens” movement in the early 2010s, paints a picture of someone trying to find a cause, the official said.
“They’re looking for a narrative where they can rewrite their life story and cast themselves as a hero,” the official said.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “Moorish sovereigns believe their status as members of a sovereign nation imparts immunity from federal, state and local authorities.”
Mc Neil’s Facebook page was peppered with anti-government and anti-police diatribes, including a link to a video of the rap song “Hands Up” by Uncle Murda and Maino in 2014. The video — considered a tribute to Eric Garner, who died at the hands of the NYPD, and other victims of police violence — shows the two rappers pointing guns at a cop’s head.
His mother described him to detective as mentally ill, but police haven’t uncovered evidence he was clinically diagnosed with mental illness, the NYPD official said.
McNeil was standing over Mora, his gun pointed at the already injured cop and about to fire again, when he was shot and mortally wounded by rookie Officer Sumit Sulan, the official said.
McNeil had a “lifelong fascination with guns,” the official said, noting McNeil was using a high-caliber Glock pistol with a drum magazine attachment in his deadly rampage, and had a custom rifle under his mattress.
The Glock 45 handgun he used to kill Rivera and Mora was stolen from Baltimore in 2017. A security guard told police she believes her son stole it from a safe, the NYPD official said.
Investigators have found no link between the thief and McNeil; the thief was a drug user and may have sold the firearm before McNeil wound up with it.
As for the weapon under McNeil’s mattress — an American Tactical AR-15 assault-style rifle — it’s not clear who originally bought it or if it was ever reported stolen, the police official said.
The rifle’s lower receiver was shipped to a gun shop in Michigan, and either the dealer or the buyer completed it with custom rifle parts, the official said. The gun shop is now out of business, and NYPD and federal investigators are working together to find out more about the weapon.
McNeil, who worked as a barber in Maryland, moved to Harlem in November to live with his mother, the official said.