New York City lost a police officer in the line of duty Friday night when he was fatally shot and his partner was wounded as they responded to a tense domestic violence call at a Manhattan apartment, officials and law enforcement sources said.
The gunman who fired was critically wounded but was still being treated early Saturday, law enforcement sources said.
Killed was Officer Jason Rivera, 22, said police sources. The officer still fighting for his life at Harlem Hospital early Saturday was Wilbert Mora, 27, the sources said.
Rivera, Mora and another officer who has not been identified responded to a 911 shortly before 6:30 p.m. and quickly found themselves in a dangerous situation involving a mother and her son fighting in an apartment on W. 135th St. near Malcolm X Blvd. in Harlem, sources said.
Shots began flying at almost the moment they hit the door of the first-floor apartment. Sources said body cam video captured the chaotic shootout.
“They went into the building and it jumped off,” said neighbor Garrett Fowler, 62. “There were two guys being brought out of the building on stretchers. They weren’t moving at all.”
The wounded cops were rushed to nearby Harlem Hospital, where Rivera was pronounced dead.
Rivera had been on the job since November, 2020. Mora has been on the job for four years, officials said.
The suspect, Lashawn McNeil of Allentown, Pa., was also shot and wounded in the melee, police said. A source said he did not live in the apartment.
The third officer was at the chaotic scene, but was not wounded or injured, officials said.
Officers were called to the same apartment for a domestic violence call in August, sources said.
Mayor Adams, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell and top police brass rushed to Harlem Hospital and were briefed on the shooting. Adams is a former police captain who as a cop responded to dangerous domestic incidents.
More than 100 officers surrounded the new mayor in the hospital lobby as he updated reporters on the shooting. Also on hand was Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch.
“It is our city against the killers,” Adams said. “This was not just an attack on three brave officers. This was an attack on the city of New York. It was an attack on children and families of this city.”
The new police commissioner struck an angry tone.
“I am struggling to find the words to express the tragedy we are enduring,” Sewell said. “The pain their families are feeling is not something any one can put into words. They were listening to a mother who called needing help for her son. Our department is hurting. Our city is hurting. It is beyond comprehension. "
Relatives of one of the officers were escorted into the hospital hours after the shooting.
According to Chief of Detectives James Essig, the 911 caller asking for help to deal with her son did not mention any injuries or any weapons. The three officers who responded to the call met with the woman in front of the one-bedroom apartment, talking first with her and one of her sons.
“Upon entering the apartment, the officers were met by that female caller and her son,” Essig said. “After a brief conversation, the officers are informed that her other son, whom she was disputing with, was in the back bedroom.”
When Rivera and Mora split off to approach the woman’s other sons, shots were fired, Essig said.
“This hallway is very tight and narrow,” Essig said. “The door swings open and numerous shots were fired, striking both officers.”
Essig said McNeil, 47, still armed and dangerous, tried to flee the apartment — but crossed paths with the third officer, who shot him in the right arm and head.
A Glock 45 handgun with a high-capacity magazine that holds up to 40 rounds was recovered at the scene, Essig said. He said the weapon was stolen in Baltimore in 2017.
Essig said McNeil had a criminal history that included a gun charge in North Carolina, an assault on a police officer in Pennsylvania, and a felony narcotics charge in New York City. Essig said he was on probation.
Tributes poured in from across the region. Gov. Hochul said she was touched by the officer’s death.
“My heart is with Harlem, the officers and their families, and @NYPDnews after tonight’s tragic shooting,” Hochul tweeted. “My team is ready to support @NYCMayor in any way necessary.”
“All of New York state is in mourning tonight,” state Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “As we await the facts, my office may assert jurisdiction in this matter. We pray for the safety of our police and our communities.”
The deadly clash marked the third police shooting in just one week, following the Thursday morning wounding of a detective during a Staten Island drug raid and a cop grazed Tuesday while scuffling with a teen gunman in the Bronx.
Rivera and Mora are the fourth and fifth members of the NYPD shot so far in the new year, which began on a bad note when Officer Keith Wagenhauser was hit with bullet fragments on New Year’s Day while he was catching a nap in his car between shifts outside the 25th Precinct in East Harlem.
On Thursday, narcotics Detective Dominick Libretti was shot on Staten Island while executing a drug warrant.
Libretti, while bleeding badly from a wound to his leg, protected his brothers in blue from harm by holding his ballistic shield in place as ex-con Nelson Pizarro squeezed off at least a dozen bullets at them from inside his second-floor bedroom at the end of a long hallway, police said.
On Tuesday, Officer Kaseem Pennant was shot and wounded trying to arrest a 16-year-old Crips gang member armed with a stolen gun outside a Bronx apartment building.
Sewell said Rivera was killed “because he did what we asked him to do.”
Sewell and Adams declined to take questions from reporters.
“We’re not going to answer your questions,” Sewell said. “We hope our prayers are answered.”
With Graham Rayman and Thomas Tracy