Police Seek Public's Help to Place Cop Shooter's Whereabouts Hours Before Brooklyn Killings

"We're seeking to build this case up so we know going forward exactly who talked to this man and may have stopped him"

As investigators piece together a timeline of Ismaaiyl Brinsley's whereabouts leading up to the deadly shootings of two NYPD officers in Brooklyn Saturday, authorities are asking for the public's help in determining where the gunman was in the two and a half hours before the shooting.

Surveillance video shows Brinsley walking inside Atlantic Center Mall in Brooklyn at about noon Saturday. About two and a half hours later, at 2:47 p.m., he fatally shot NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu at point blank range as they sat in a squad car on a street in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

"We owe it to their families to find out what happened," said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce at a news briefing Monday. "We owe it to them to find out exactly what happened." 

Police have established Brinsley's whereabouts from the early morning hours Saturday in Maryland up to his travel into New York City. But a two-plus-hour gap between his appearance at the mall and the shooting remains unaccounted for. 

"We're looking for other witnesses to paint a better picture of this individual, to see if he told anybody beforehand," said Boyce. "We're seeking to build this case up so we know going forward exactly who talked to this man and may have stopped him." 

Brinsley is seen in the video carrying a plastic bag containing a Styrofoam container. Investigators believe the gun he used to fatally shoot the officers was inside the container, according to Boyce. 

He was wearing a distinctive jacket and distinctive shoes. 

Mayor de Blasio also urged New Yorkers to immediately report the slightest indication of any threat against police officers going forward. 

"The simplest thing any New Yorker can do is call 911," he said at the briefing. "If you hear someone make a physical threat against a police officer, if you see something on social media that is a threat against a police officer, call 911 immediately. We would rather get too much information rather than too little." 

Moments before he fatally shot the officers, Brinsley told bystanders, "Watch what I'm going to do," police previously said. 

Brinsley happened upon two young men prior to the 2:47 p.m. attack on Saturday, Boyce said. He asked whether they had any gang affiliation, told them to follow him on Instagram and then suggested they watch what he planned to do next, the chief said.

Brinsley proceeded to walk up to a parked patrol car and fire four shots into the passenger side window, killing both officers, authorities have said.

He fled the scene and was spotted by two Consolidated Edison workers who chased him in their truck and called police. Brinsley ran into a nearby subway station and shot himself in the head. There were 10 witnesses to his suicide, Boyce said.

Investigators believe the gunman posted a threatening message on a social media account before the shooting. "They take 1 of ours, let's take 2 of theirs," read the post on Instagram, which was accompanied by a photo of a silver handgun.

"I'm putting wings on pigs today," the post added.

Brinsley shot and injured his ex-girlfriend at about 5:30 a.m. Saturday in Baltimore with that same 9 mm weapon he used to kill the officers, Boyce said. Authorities say Brinsley had initially held the gun to his own head, but the ex-girlfriend, Shaneka Nicole Thompson, talked him out of shooting himself.

He shot her instead. The 29-year-old woman remained hospitalized in serious but stable condition Tuesday and is expected to survive.

Thompson's mother warned Baltimore police about the Instagram posting around 1:30 p.m. and said she thought Brinsley had ties to a church along Church Avenue in Brooklyn, according to a police source briefed on the situation.

Baltimore police called New York's 70th precinct just after 2 p.m., and a detective spoke with an NYPD officer for half an hour about the case, including reviewing the social media posts and photos of Brinsley. A wanted poster was then faxed from Baltimore to the precinct.

The NYPD received the fax just moments before the attack on Ramos and Liu - a "tragic irony," Bratton said Saturday.

A spokeswoman for Baltimore County police, Elise Armacost, said Monday, "We were dealing with a deadline we didn't know existed because we had no idea what he was going to do." 

Boyce said there was no failure on anyone's part to alert authorities or investigate in the hours leading up to fatal shootings. 

"All things were done exactly as they were supposed to do. We had a document to move on. One minute after that document was faxed, the double homicide occurred. There was no lapse on anybody's part," said Boyce, noting that the Baltimore County police "have been great partners to us." 

Criminal records show Brinsley has a history of arrests on various charges in Georgia, including robbery, shoplifting, carrying a concealed weapon, disorderly conduct and obstruction of a law enforcement officer. Boyce said investigators found no evidence that Brinsley was a gang member or made any extremist religious statements.

"All his trouble appears to be in the South," Boyce said.

Brinsley's mother and sister told the NYPD that he was a violent person and that they were afraid of him. Police said Brinsley had an 11-month-old baby with a girlfriend who lived on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, and his mother lives in Crown Heights. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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