Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters on Friday that the man who attacked four NYPD officers with a hatchet before they fatally shot him dead on Thursday in Queens committed an “act of terror.”
Mayor de Blasio joined Bratton and called the incident a “vicious attack” by a “troubled individual.”
“We at this time believe that he acted alone,” Police Commissioner Bratton said Friday. “We would describe him as self-radicalized. We would describe him as self-directed in his activities.”
Zale Thompson ran toward the group of four officers with the 18-inch hatchet while they posed for a photo by a freelance photographer on a Jamaica street corner in Queens. After he attacked one officer in the head and another officer in the arm, the other two officers opened fire and killed Thompson.
According to Bratton, police obtained a search warrant of Thompson’s computer to find more information about the now deceased man, who allegedly left Officer Kenneth Healy with a critical but stable head injury and Officer Joseph Meeker with a wounded arm. Investigators are still looking into whether Thompson was a “lone wolf” or a “homegrown” terrorist.
“The common thread going through those conversations are anti-western, anti-government, and in some cases anti-white,” said John Miller, the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter-terrorism.
Bratton said the assault happened within 10 seconds, and Thompson, according to detectives, was still grasping the hatchet when he was pronounced dead.