A New York City police officer is dead and another officer is severely injured after a shooting on Friday night while the officers were answering a call about an argument between a woman and her son.
The officer was identified as Jason Rivera, 22, who joined the force in November 2020. The other officer who has been severely wounded is 27-year-old Wilbert Mora, who has been with the NYPD for four years.
“Countless officers lined this hallway after carrying him in and grieve for their brother while praying with everything they have for the other” officer, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell told reporters at a Harlem hospital. “I am struggling to find the words to express the tragedy we are enduring. We’re mourning, and we’re angry.”
According to authorities, Rivera, Mora, and a third officer arrived at a six-story apartment building on 135th street responding to a call from a woman who needed help with her son. The son was identified by police as 47-year-old Lashawn J. McNeil.
The officers spoke with the woman and another son, then Rivera and Mora entered the street-level apartment, down a narrow hallway about 30-feet (9-meters) long.
NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said McNeil swung open a bedroom door and shot at the officers, striking them. He then tried to flee while the third officer who had stayed with McNeil’s mother in the front of the apartment shot at McNeil and wounded him in the head and arm, Essig said.
McNeil was later hospitalized and is in critical condition, according to NYPD spokesperson Lt. John Grimpel, correcting earlier reports that he had died.
“Tonight, we mourn the loss of a hero officer—a son, husband, and friend. Only 22 years old, Police Officer Jason Rivera was murdered in the line of duty,” the NYPD announced on Twitter. “We vow to #NeverForget Jason as his fellow Finest vow to honor his tremendous legacy of service & the ultimate sacrifice.”
McNeil was previously on probation for a 2003 drug conviction in New York City and had other out-of-state arrests. Essig said McNeil was arrested in Pennsylvania in 2002 for assaulting a police officer.
Police said the gun used in Friday night’s shooting had been stolen in Baltimore in 2017. The gun was a .45-caliber Glock with a high-capacity magazine that could hold up to 40 extra rounds.
Mayor Eric Adams, a former police officer, called on the federal government to take more action to confiscate stolen guns like the one used by McNeil late Friday.
“There are no gun manufacturers in New York City,” he said. “We don’t make guns here. How are we removing thousands of guns off the street and they still find their way into New York City, in the hands of people who are killers?”
Since Adams came into office three weeks ago, the NYPD has reinstated a plainclothes anti-crime unit aimed at getting guns off the streets.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.