Bed-Stuy Mourns Slain Officers

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Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot by a gunman from Baltimore while in their patrol cars.

Residents from church congregations to convenience stores said they are praying for peace after the shooting of two police officers who were sitting in a patrol car at the corner of Myrtle and Tompkins Avenues on Saturday.

"We need to pray and keep the officers' family in prayer, too," said Gertrude Spivey, a congregant at the New Testament Church of God, which is across the street from where the officers were shot. "We need healing in the neighborhood now because of the tragedy."

The killing of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos came after weeks of protests over the grand jury's decision not to indict a cop for the chokehold death of Eric Garner. Police said the gunman posted on social media that he was angry about the outcome of the case.

Standing on a corner a few blocks away from the shooting site, Hason Carter said anger against the NYPD has been growing in Bed-Stuy, and he wasn’t surprised to see an attack on police.

"The big picture is, there was no justice for everything these police were doing," he said. "Now somebody took it within their hands, how shall I say, to equal the score. And it’s far from equal."

He said he expected the violence would only get worse.

But another Bed-Stuy resident, Tahar Salym, disagreed and said many neighbors support the police. He called the gunman who shot the two officers a lone wolf.

"People think black people are bad or white people are bad. No," he said. "If one person is bad not everybody is bad."

By evening, hundreds of people came out for a vigil that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams organized near the shooting site. It attracted a diverse mix of New Yorkers, many of them longtime Bed-Stuy residents, and also politicians. Anthony Jones was holding a sign that said "Time for healing."

"I think it's possible especially after the two deaths of the officers as well as the deaths of other people around the city that have died," said Jones, a district leader in the area.

 A couple of police officers who attended the vigil told WNYC about the moment they learned of the shooting. They had been at the annual 79th precinct community council Christmas party, giving presents and celebrating with local children. They said they rushed the 15 blocks to the shooting site and found that Ramos and Liu had been eating lunch in their patrol car before they were ambushed. Other officers at the vigil were too grief-stricken to speak, as others around them sang hymns such as "This Little Light of Mine."

There was also singing a borough away in Harlem, as hundreds gathered for a march organized by the Justice League, the same group that has been organizing protests since the grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case, and that met with Mayor de Blasio at City Hall on Friday. The demonstration had been planned before the officers in Bed-Stuy were killed.

The gathering took on the tone of a vigil, as people conducted a silent march along 110th Street to the Harlem Meer. When they got to the water's edge they lit candles and spoke of the need for reconciliation, justice and empathy.

"I would hope that protesters could enter into the pain of police officers' widows because we have to have mutual grief and lament before there's actual forgiveness and reconciliation," said Jonathan Walton, a Jackson Heights, Queens resident who attended the demonstration. "If you can't be sad about my stuff, then I can't be sad about yours and then violence begets violence."