Two suspects were arrested Tuesday in the shooting of two plainclothes police officers who had responded to a grocery store robbery in the Bronx, New York police said, and one of the suspects had posted anti-police statements online.
Monday night’s shooting was the latest violence against police in a city still reeling from the assassination of two officers in Brooklyn on Dec. 20. That incident set off a storm of criticism by police, who argued that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s comments about race and policing had created an atmosphere that led to the attack.
Police said the two suspects, Jason Polanco, 24, and Joshua Kemp, 28, had a history of arrests and were suspects in other robberies. Authorities would not say which suspect had an Instagram account, which they said contained posts criticizing police.
Polanco faces five counts of attempted murder, one for each of the officers who responded to the initial robbery call, New York Police Chief of Detectives Robert K. Boyce told reporters Tuesday.
Kemp faces robbery charges, Boyce said.
The incident began about 10:30 p.m. Monday, when officers responded to East 184th Street in the Tremont section of the Bronx, Boyce said. Two officers were coming off their shift when they and three others went to investigate the robbery of a grocery store and deli.
New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said the officers spotted two suspects, one outside a Chinese restaurant and another inside it.
Two officers went to question Kemp, who was on the sidewalk, Boyce said. Polanco then opened fire, Boyce said, hitting Kemp, and that bullet subsequently struck one of the officers.
The suspects fled, Boyce said, and Polanco fired two more shots, hitting Officers Andrew Dossi, 30, and Aliro Pellerano, 38. Both were wounded by what police said was a .44-caliber revolver. They were taken to St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
A hospital spokesman said Tuesday night that Dossi was in critical but stable condition. Pellerano was expected to be released Wednesday.
The suspects carjacked a white Camaro and later abandoned it near East 188th Street and Park Avenue, Boyce said. Investigators also recovered a gun there.
The gun was stolen, officials said, and it has been traced to Colorado in the 1980s. How the weapon got to New York is still under investigation.
Kemp, who had a bullet wound in an arm, was taken by a friend to Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan, where he was treated and turned over to police on Tuesday. Under questioning, Kemp confessed and implicated Polanco, Boyce said. Polanco, of the Bronx, was then taken into custody.
De Blasio was quick to praise the wounded officers.
“They went above and beyond the call to protect their fellow New Yorkers,” the embattled mayor said. “Thank God the officers are doing well and will recover.”
Among De Blasio’s comments that infuriated officers was one from last month, after a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the death of an unarmed black man. The mayor said he and his wife had warned their biracial son, “Look, if a police officer stops you, do everything he tells you to do. Don't move suddenly ... because we knew, sadly, there's a greater chance it might be misinterpreted if it was a young man of color.”
After the Dec. 20 slaying of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu by a man who had vowed online to kill “pigs,” a police union leader accused the mayor and others of having blood on their hands.
Ramos was buried Dec. 27 and Liu on Sunday. At both funerals, some officers turned their backs on the mayor in protest.
Haller reported from New York and Muskal from Los Angeles. Matt Pearce in Los Angeles contributed to this report.