Bed-Stuy Police Shooting First Responder Hopes for Peace and Resolving of Tension Between City, NYPD

December 24, 2014 Updated: December 24, 2014

NEW YORK—Saturday afternoon, Baron Johnson received a call over the 911 transmission radio. There was an incident in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and an officer was down. He assembled an emergency services crew as quickly as possible and headed over to the scene.

En route, Johnson received another call. There was a second event at the same site, he said. “And this time it was ‘two officers down, put a rush onthe bus.'”

Sunday evening, Johnson attended a candlelight vigil for fallen officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, who were sitting in a police car when a shooter walked up to the car and fired his gun at the officers’ heads.

“We were actually the first on the scene, so I just came here to pay my respects,” Johnson said.

At first, he said, he didn’t know how serious the situation really was. He hoped maybe it was just a fight, maybe some minor injuries. It wasn’t until he arrived on scene that he learned it was a shooting.

Another officer came to escort Johnson and his crew to the shot officers.

“That’s when I learned that two officers got shot,” Johnson said. “It was rough.”

“It’s a really bad situation,” he said. “I wish it could have been avoided.”

Seeing the wealth of people paying their respects to the officers meant a lot to Johnson. But he said he had also had worries the incident might push someone else to commit a similar crime.

“I think police are more on edge now. They’re afraid for their lives and I understand that,” Johnson said. “The public is on edge now.”

Johnson, a black man, said he had seen tension increase between the community and the police force in the city, and at times he has been asked which side he stands on himself as well.

“There is a lot of tension,” he said. “I hope that people can now try to work something out, on both sides … and stop the violence. Nobody deserves to die.”

“I don’t choose sides. My job is to save lives, no matter what you wear, what place you’re [from], what you did, I don’t judge you. You’re hurt, I come, I help you. And whatever happens after that is in the hands of a higher authority,” Johnson said.

“I just hope to see a change, and peace,” Johnson said.