What to Know
- The man accused of the knife assault on an NYPD officer in Brooklyn early June told a medical worker at Kings County Hospital that he killed two police officers and that his "religion made me do it," according to federal prosecutors.
- This latest development comes on the same day that a federal indictment was returned in Brooklyn federal court charging Dzenan Camovic with robbery and firearms offenses for his June 3 knife and firearm attack on multiple NYPD officers in Brooklyn.
- Two officers had been on anti-looting patrol near Church and Flatbush avenues around 11:45 p.m. June 3 when law enforcement officials say the 21-year-old suspect slashed one of the cops in the neck with a knife.
The man accused of the knife assault on an NYPD officer in Brooklyn early June told a medical worker at Kings County Hospital that he killed two police officers and that his "religion made me do it," according to federal prosecutors.
This latest development comes on the same day that a federal indictment Wednesday was returned in Brooklyn federal court charging Dzenan Camovic with robbery and firearms offenses for his June 3 knife and firearm attack on multiple NYPD officers in Brooklyn.
According to the court filings, Camovic, a 21-year-old Bosnian national, was motivated to attack the officers because of his interest in and support for violent Islamist extremism. Federal prosecutors said he was born in Germany and has no legal immigration status in the U.S.
Camovic is currently in state custody and will be arraigned at a later date. If convicted, Camovic faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Camovic is charged with Hobbs Act robbery, using and discharging a firearm during that robbery, theft of a firearm that moved in interstate commerce and unlawful possession of a firearm as an illegal alien, according to the indictment.
Camovic has been previously charged with attempted murder of an officer, robbery, assault of an officer, criminal possession of a weapon, and reckless endangerment.
“Dzenan Camovic, an illegal alien and Bosnian national, is alleged to have used the cover of chaos during recent civil unrest in New York City to launch a premeditated and cowardly attack from behind against two New York City Police officers, brutally slashing one with a knife, stealing his weapon and opening fire, and injuring several responding officers,” Attorney General William Barr in a statement.
The prosecutors say in their appeal to keep Camovic detained pending trial that he has a “significant volume of materials that demonstrate his interest in and support for violent Islamic extremism.”
They say when Camovic’s bedroom was searched they found CDs and thumb drives containing audio and video files of lectures from Anwar Al-Awlaki as well as ISIS related propaganda. About a year before the attack, Camovic started expressing interest in Islamic State and other Syrian-based terrorist groups and asked about the permissibility of killing civilians, federal prosecutors said, citing information provided by an unidentified person interviewed during the investigation. Camovic did not hold extreme religious beliefs, the person said, according to federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors say that Camovic appeared to have tried and deleted some of the jihadist propaganda on his phone prior to the attack. According to prosecutors, “Camovic also downloaded to his phone - and subsequently deleted prior to his attack - an app associated with the "dark web," which is designed to anonymize and encrypt the user's internet activity.”
Prosecutors also allege, “Camovic used multiple social media and messaging platforms, which provided encrypted or otherwise undetectable means of communication and which were used to communicate with individuals located overseas, and Camovic shifted from one platform to another in an apparent effort to hide these communications.”
However in a statement to News 4, Camovic's attorneys, Robert G. Stahl and Laura K. Gasiorowski, said: "Despite the Government’s allegations otherwise, Dzenan Camovic was not motivated by extremism and this has nothing to do with religion. This is Dzenan’s first arrest, and he comes from a hard-working, loving family. Like a number of others during this pandemic he has been struggling with untreated mental health issues. We look forward to defending him."
Stahl also refuted the government’s assertion that his client showed support for the Islamic State or other terrorist groups. Camovic “is a troubled young man in a number of respects, as opposed to having any terrorist or Islamic leanings,” Stahl said in a telephone interview.
On June 3, two officers had been on anti-looting patrol near Church and Flatbush avenues around 11:45 p.m. when law enforcement officials say the 20-year-old suspect slashed one of the cops in the neck with a knife. The indictment goes on to say that minutes before the attack, Camovic walked past the two officers and appeared to crouch for several minutes watching them.
At some point, shots were fired and a nearby sergeant responded. When the sergeant got to the scene, one of the other officer's guns was in the suspect's hand, Chief Dermot Shea previously said.
During his attack on the police officers, Camovic repeatedly shouted “Allahu Akbar,” a common Arabic phrase meaning “God is the greatest,” that has been used by perpetrators of violent jihadist terror attacks during the commission of violent attacks, according to the Acting United States Attorney Eastern District of New York Seth D. DuCharme's Office. The government’s investigation has revealed that, prior to the attack, Camovic possessed a significant volume of radical jihadist propaganda.
More gunfire went off. Shea said a total of 22 shots were fired. Two officers were struck in the hand. They and the stabbed cop were taken to a hospital in stable condition. Camovic was eventually apprehended after having been hit eight times.
“Several days into protests that erupted in New York City and throughout the country, we allege Dzenan Camovic, motivated by ISIS-inspired ideology, ambushed three NYPD officers on the streets of Brooklyn and caused serious injury to those officers,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney said in a statement.
The attack happened amid protests over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, leading to speculation among police and union officials that he had been inspired by anti-police rhetoric. Officer Yayonfrant Jean Pierre and the other wounded officers survived their injuries. The bloodshed happened hours after an 8 p.m. curfew that was intended to quell the at-times violent protests.