Hatchet-wielding Zale H. Thompson was shot and killed Thursday in Jamaica, Queens, N.Y., after he allegedly lunged at a group of officers with the weapon, critically injuring one, the New York Daily News reports.
Police are trying to determine just what motivated 32-year-old Thompson to allegedly attack about 2 p.m. on a bustling intersection at Jamaica Ave., near 162nd St.
Events began to unfold when the suspect emerged from behind a bus shelter and allegedly attacked a group of rookie officers, who graduated from the Police Academy together in July.
New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said it appeared as if the suspect had been stalking the officers before the ambush, CNN reports, and so far it appears that he acted alone.
He struck one officer in the right arm and another in the head, according to the commissioner. The two officers who weren’t hit then shot at and killed the attacker.
The law enforcement official identified the suspect as Zale H. Thompson, who had a criminal record in California and had been discharged from the Navy for misconduct, according to the source.
The police officer who was struck in the head remains in critical but stable condition. The other officer, who is 24, was struck in the arm and was expected to be released soon.
A 29-year-old bystander who was struck by a bullet in the lower back was also taken to a hospital. Her condition was not known.
Some speculated that Thompson had ties to radical Islamist groups, but a senior law enforcement officer dismissed those speculations. That concern was raised after Thompson was reportedly pictured on his Facebook page, wearing a keffiyeh. Thompson had also reportedly held a recent terrorism-related conversation with one of his Facebook friends, according to a police source.
The Obama administration has expressed concern about lone wolf attacks motivated by “extremist ideologies,” after an attack at Canada’s Parliament.
Not much is known about Thompson, so investigators are still piecing together what led to the attack.