Moments before he fatally shot two police officers at point blank range as they sat in their squad car in Brooklyn, Ismaaiyl Brinsley told bystanders, "Watch what I'm going to do," investigators say.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce mentioned the encounter during a Sunday news briefing focused on the timeline in the slayings of officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu as they sat in their squad car on a Bedford-Stuyvesant street.
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 critical but stable condition Sunday 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.
Authorities believe Brinsley acted alone, but Mayor de Blasio urged the public Monday to notify police of any threatening messages against the NYPD on social media or elsewhere. All threats will be taken seriously, he said.
Investigators also continue to look into Brinsley's whereabouts once he arrived in Brooklyn. Surveillance video captures him walking outside Atlantic Center Terminal with a white plastic bag containing what authorities believe to be the gun he used to kill the two officers, and officials ask anyone who may have seen him to contact police. Authorities say there are about two and a half hours between when that video was captured and when he shot the officers, and in an effort to provide the utmost closure possible to the victims' families, they want to close the gap.
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.