Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were in their marked New York Police Department cruiser on a Brooklyn street when a gunman opened fire on them, then fled to a subway station where he committed suicide.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the partners never had time to pull their weapons and might not have even seen their killer. The men were working out of the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn as part of a special detail to help with crime reduction in the area.
Ramos, who celebrated his 40th birthday this month, joined the NYPD in 2012 after working as a school security officer. He was a lifelong Brooklyn resident, living in the same Cypress Hills section where he had grown up.
He was married with two sons: a 13-year-old and one in college. His younger son, Jaden, posted on Facebook about how much Ramos meant to him.
"He was the best father I could ask for," Jaden Ramos wrote. "It's horrible that someone gets shot dead just for being a police officer. Everyone says they hate cops but they are the people that they call for help. I will always love you and I will never forget you. RIP Dad."
Ramos' cousin, Ronnie Gonzalez, said the family has already forgiven the gunman.
"He's in the hands of God now," Gonzalez said. "We don't believe in vengeance, we just forgive."
The 32-year-old Liu had more job experience and had been a member of the police force for seven years. He moved this year to a home in Brooklyn's Gravesend section.
Liu had gotten married just two months ago.