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New York governor gets fact-checked after blaming 'a shot from an illegal gun' for murder of NYPD officer

Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) was mocked on social media over the weekend after she blamed "a shot from an illegal gun" for killing a New York City police officer on Friday.

What is the background?

Rookie NYPD officer Jason Rivera was murdered and his partner Wilbert Mora critically injured when Lashawn McNeil reportedly opened fire on them in an ambush-style attack. The officers were dispatched to the apartment where McNeil was staying after his mother called 911 and reported a domestic incident.

At the scene, investigators reportedly recovered a Glock .45 pistol that was allegedly reported stolen out of Baltimore, the New York Post reported. McNeil reportedly had a lengthy rap sheet for prior criminal activity and was out on probation at the time of the shooting.

What did Hochul say?

On Saturday, the governor claimed that "a shot from an illegal gun" — not McNeil — took Rivera's life.

"Last night, a shot from an illegal gun took the life of a @NYPDnews officer," Hochul tweeted. "When I say we’re going to do everything we can to stop the scourge of illegal guns in our state, it’s not just talk. We are tripling funding for efforts to get these guns off the streets."

In a video accompanying her tweet, Hochul declared that Rivera's death is a "resounding call to action" on guns, adding that "we have to do more to fight the scourge of illegal guns on our streets." She blamed lenient firearm laws in neighboring states for the alleged incursion of illegal guns into the Empire State.

What was the reaction?

Critics pounced on Hochul and her rush to blame guns for the murder of a police officer that happened allegedly at the hands of a person who should not have had a gun in the first place.

  • "Clueless Kathy: A career criminal you & others like to coddle shot the NYPD cops. You talk tough on guns but NYC prosecutors drop charges on majority of gun crimes. You resist tougher gun crime penalties. Your 'bail reform' is a disaster. Your LG is 'defund the police' Wake up!" Rob Astorino, who is running for governor of New York as a Republican, said.
  • "Guns don’t kill people…. People kill people. And the person is the problem. If it’s not a gun, then it’s some other type of weapon. The problem here is the person. Need to deal with very mean and evil people with weapons," another person said.
  • "We are done with this ideology. The illegal guns will continue to be issues as long as there are bad people who are comfortable with the risk proposition to carry them and use them. NYC has the strictest gun laws in the country. They have some of the most lax bail laws," one person pointed out.
  • "How’d the gun go off? Did it just discharge?" one person mockingly questioned.
  • "Any word on the gun's motive," another person mocked.
  • "The murderer once again had a long arrest record & was repeatedly released from jail. We desperately need to revisit bail reform. It’s impossible to live in NY," one person said.
  • "Im sorry but talking about ending illegal guns right now is bull sh**. It’s not something you can do overnight Do something that will address the criminals. End the ridiculous bail reform that has only made things worse. Sometimes you have to admit when things done work!!!" another person said.
  • "Guns just walking around shooting people on their own? Is this gun related to the SUV that ran over a parade in Waukesha?" one person mocked.
  • "A shot from an illegal gun' fired by a human with an extensive criminal record, right?" another person mocked.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) also seemingly placed partial blame for the murder of Rivera on guns, and he is demanding intervention from federal officials to help curb the influx of guns into the Big Apple.

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