NEW YORK (TheBlaze/AP) — A hatchet-wielding man attacked a group of patrol officers in a busy commercial district in Queens on Thursday, injuring two before the other officers shot and killed him, New York City police said. A bystander was wounded in the gunfire.
The deceased suspect has been identified in multiple reports as 32-year-old Zale Thompson, an apparent Muslim who lived in Queens.
At a news conference at a hospital where one officer was being treated for a serious head wound, Police Commissioner William Bratton said that investigators were still trying to determine a motive.
Asked if the attack could be related to terrorism, Bratton didn’t rule it out. He cited the fatal shooting of a solider in Canada earlier this week – what officials there have called a terror attack – as reason for concern.
“This early on, we really cannot say yes or no to that question,” Bratton said.
However, law enforcement sources told Vocative that Thompson appeared to have ties to a radical Islamic leader who supports “aggression” towards the United States government. More from the report:
Last month, Thompson, who says on his Facebook page that he graduated from the Teachers College, Columbia University in New York, commented on YouTube: “If you’re looking for ‘perfect’ Muslims who never make any mistakes in their Jihad, then you will be looking in vain! If the Zionists and the Crusaders had never invaded and colonized the Islamic lands after WW1, then there would be no need for Jihad! Which is better, to sit around and do nothing, or to Jihad fisabeelallah!”
Thompson’s comment was on a video explaining the idea of creating an Islamic caliphate, or borderless kingdom, which is ISIS’s ultimate aim.
While we couldn’t find the YouTube comment reported by Vocative, we did find another comment apparently made by Thompson on a YouTube video speaking out against “whites.”
“It’s ok for white people to draw pictures of a white jesus, and then colonize Africa, and enslave the negro in America, wipe out the native American, and invade the middle east. They call black people racist for rejecting the oppression they suffered from whites,” he wrote. “Listen, when black people have colonized the entire continent of Europe, enslaved its people, and sold them into bondage to foreign lands, then you can call them racist.”
Further, images on Thompson’s apparent Facebook page are raising additional questions about the suspect’s possible connection to radical Islam or any terrorist groups:
Other law enforcement sources told CNN that officials are investigating whether the attack is in any way related to calls by terrorists calling on radical Islamists to attack military and police officers, a development covered by TheBlaze’s “For the Record.”
The attack occurred in the commercial district in Queens at about 2 p.m., while four rookie New York Police Department officers on foot patrol were posing for a photo, police said. Without a word, the man charged the officers and began swinging the hatchet, first hitting one in the arm and another in the back of the head, they said.
After the second officer fell to the ground, the two uninjured officers fired several rounds. The bullets killed the assailant and wounded the bystander, police said.
The officer was in critical but stable condition and was expected to undergo surgery. The woman who was struck by a stray bullet also was hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the back.
Video emerged on Thursday showing the suspect approaching officers with a large hatchet:
The New York Post also obtained video from the scene (Warning: Strong content):
This report has been updated.