One NYPD police officer was killed and another clung to life Friday evening after they were shot while responding to a 911 call in a Harlem apartment — the fourth and fifth cops shot during the first three weeks of the year.
The incident creates an early inflection point in the young tenure of Mayor Eric Adams — a retired police captain who campaigned on reducing gun violence during his election last year, and has been responding to shootings across the five boroughs during his first few weeks on the job.
Now, with the state Legislature in session and a new City Council gearing up to negotiate with Adams over his budget, the mayor will have an opportunity to increase NYPD funding and push for changes to bail reform laws that he has questioned since being elected.
Late Friday Adams joined his Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell in delivering emotional defenses of the NYPD, expressing anger over persistent shootings and calling on the federal government to increase enforcement of illegal gun trafficking.
“It is our city against the killers,” said Adams, wearing an official police jacket, from a podium inside Harlem Hospital, where the officers were taken after being shot by a 47-year-old man in a West 135th Street apartment.
They were responding to a 911 call earlier in the evening from a mother reporting a dispute with her son, according to an account of the incident detailed by NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig.
When they arrived, the woman directed them to a bedroom in the back of the apartment.
The officers proceeded down a narrow, 30-foot-long hallway toward the room. There, Lashawn McNeil — on probation for a 2003 narcotics conviction in the city and four drug and gun arrests outside of New York — shot them repeatedly with a Glock 45 stolen from Baltimore in 2017, Essig said. At that point a third officer opened fire on McNeil, hitting his right arm and head.
The NYPD is now working with the Joint Firearms Task Force of the local Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives to trace the gun, Essig said.
The collaboration extends to Attorney General Merrick Garland, whose spokesperson at the Justice Department, Anthony Coley, tweeted that Garland and Sewell spoke earlier in the evening. “He expressed his condolences and told her that the department and @FBI are standing by to assist. He mentioned that FBI is already in touch with counterparts at @NYPD,” Coley tweeted.
State Attorney General Tish James released a statement saying her office “may assert jurisdiction in this matter.”
As the feds touted the collaboration, Adams called for more help from the Biden administration to combat the flow of weapons into New York City, noting, “We don’t make guns here.”
“We need Washington to act now to stop the flow of weapons into our cities,” Adams said.
He recalled his own late mother’s fear when he and his brother, Bernard Adams, were active-duty police officers and she heard of cops being shot.
"No matter how painful this moment is, don't give up on these people in this city. Don't give up. Don't feel as though they don't want you to do your job,” he said. “Twitter and Instagram and social media — they're not the people you're protecting.”
Adams has sparred with left-flank Democrats who often take to Twitter to criticize his positions on policing. Earlier this week, he told reporters he would consider exempting the NYPD from his across-the-board mandate for city agency budget cuts — but is primarily concerned with shifting officers staffing parades to patrol high-crime areas. Police funding was at the heart of a national reckoning over law enforcement and race following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
Standing behind Adams and Sewell was a leading critic of the NYPD: Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who is running for governor.
But Adams seemed to put politics aside Friday night and welcome Williams to the briefing to show a city united against gun violence.
“Normally when we do briefings like this it’s just the police officers who stand at this podium,” Adams said.
“I don’t want that tonight. I wanted everyone to be in the same room. I wanted everyone to be here to understand it is our city against the killers,” he said.