NYPD concerned hatchet attack may be linked to terrorism

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JAMAICA, Queens (PIX11/CNN) - Two police officers and a woman were injured, and a hatchet-wielding man was fatally shot during a bloody altercation Thursday in Queens and now officials are looking to see if the attack was prompted by terrorism.

Four rookie police officers were working near 162nd Street and Jamaica Avenue when a freelance photographer asked them to pose for a photo in front of a Conway store.  While they were posing, another man, 32-year-old Zale H. Thompson,  attacked without saying a word, Commissioner Bratton said at a press conference Thursday.

"The suspect was described as having charged at the officers," Bratton said.

The man, who was wielding an 18-inch hatchet, was shot dead by officers.

The man, who was wielding an 18-inch hatchet, was shot dead by officers.

Swinging an 18 1/2-inch metal hatchet, Thompson first hit a 24-year-old officer Joseph Meeker in the right arm -- he was later taken to Jamaica Hospital in stable condition.

The suspect kept swinging, striking a second officer in the back of the head, critically injuring officer Kenneth Healey, 25.

The other officers fired multiple shots, killed the suspect at the scene.

A 29-year-old woman passing by was struck by gunfire in the lower back.  She underwent surgery at Jamaica Hospital and is in stable condition.

(Credit: John Simonelli)

(Credit: John Simonelli)

Thompson, who was wearing a green, hooded jacket at the time of the attack could be seen hiding behind a bus stop before he charged the officers.  It's unclear what motive he had, since he said nothing before the attack.

In the wake of the Ottawa attack the NYPD has been on high alert, but Commmissioner Bratton  says there is no evidence yet that Thompson, a convert to Islam, did it for religious reasons.   Authorities are still investigating the possibility of a motive inspired by radicalism.

The officer who sustained the wound to the back of the head was stable and alert at the hospital, where friends and family have gathered.  He will be undergoing surgery for a "very serious injury to the back side of his head," Commissioner Bratton said.


A man believed to be  Zale H. Thompson was seen on surveillance video swinging the hatchet at the first officer. (DCPI)

In just his first year on the job, the injured officer, who has not been identified, comes from a family of NYPD cops.

Commissioner Bratton said he doesn't believe the photographer was working in any way with Thompson.  Officers are now reviewing his photos from earlier in the day.

“Three rookie cops absolutely modest about what they did, thankfully all are in good condition,” Mayor De Blasio said.

The attack happened in a bustling, commercial part of Queens.  An Applebee's restaurant, a Verizon store, several banks and a church are located nearby.

The miserable weather may have prevented additional injuries, as the sidewalks were emptier than usual thanks to a steady rain.



  • DIlva

    uptil I looked at the receipt which had said $7187 , I didn’t believe …that…my friend was like they say actualie earning money in their spare time at their laptop. . there moms best frend had bean doing this for only about twenty three months and as of now cleared the loans on their mini mansion and bourt a gorgeous Porsche 911 . view ..▒░░fox92.ς●m░░▒

  • Bob

    how can you say the photographer was not involved. This guy just happened to be standing there with a hatchet, and this guy wants to take a photo of the 4 officers?? Just a coincidence?? I think not. Setup. So lets think about this. If the officers were not all standing together then they would be somewhat apart from each other by distance. If the guy with the hatchet tries to go for just one officer, he might get a hit in, and then immediately shot by the other 3 officers. The guy taking the pic caused a diversion to take away their peripheral view and for them to focus on the camera. You are creating a type of tunnel vision. This is absolutely horrible what happened. Wait until they start doing this to the public in a state where you can not carried concealed. Good luck with that.

  • plextor555@gmail.com

    I guess PIX11 just forgot to mention that the attacker had posted jihadist rantings on his Facebook page. PC wins out again against new reporting.

  • Udi Yog

    Just “radicals”? General “radicals”? Are these vegetarians? Maybe survivalists? Nudists? Who are these “radicals” who are calling to attack law enforcement and military personnel? Let me help you: these are Muslim radicals. Muslim radicals. “Muslim” isn’t a hard word to spell, is it? Stop being cowards.

  • Jodie Lynn Gaeta

    Four New York City police officers couldn’t take down one hatchet-wielding man without using their guns? And a bystander was injured. Is NYC going to compensate her for her injuries?

    • Kelly

      Really?! You just as crazy as the man with the axe. Get real. After two officers were injured, please enlighten in how they could possible take down a crazied man attacking you with axe ?!

    • Joe Vigue Sr.

      They might have been able to get the guy without shooting him. Then again, another of them may have been wounded or killed. The woman probably will be well compensated. Bottom line, they SAVED the taxpayers MILLIONS, and the TERRORIST GOT JUST WHAT HE DESERVED!!!! You don’t like that? TOUGH SHIT!! Don’t carry and attack cops with an axe!

  • Steph

    WHAT DOES TERRORISM HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING? If it was some standard looking white guy, would the NYPD be investigating “possible religious motivated attack”? If it was a black dude, would it be “gang initiation”? This is dumb. Stop trying to scare everyone into submission by stamping terrorism across the forehead of everything.

  • pppp

    Oh God another incident and its going towards Islam…this is bullshit. I guess its easy to blame someone else, doesn’t matter who does it…. it comes to the muslim again and again

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