A gunman was arrested on Sunday, February 9, 12 hours after he opened fire at police officials in two separate incidents within 12 hours in New York. Police have blamed the rhetoric against law enforcement for the violence.

Robert Williams was captured after he walked into a police station in the Bronx and started shooting shortly before 8 am on Sunday. Police said that his shots struck a lieutenant in the arm and nearly missed another police personnel before he ran out of bullets, lay down and tossed his pistol, reported Associated Press. The incident took place hours after the 45-year-old approached a patrol van and fired at two officers, wounding one before escaping on foot.

Brick Township Police Department
Facebook/Brick Township Police Department

Authorities said that while several were wounded, no one was fatally injured in the shooting and are expected to recover. "It is only by the grace of God and the heroic actions of those inside the building that took him into custody that we are not talking about police officers murdered inside a New York City police precinct," the New York City police commissioner, Dermot Shea said in a statement. Williams was charged with attempted murder, criminal weapon possession, and resisting arrest. He was hospitalised on Sunday evening.

Anti-police rhetoric and violence

Authorities including Shea have blamed the demonstrations by criminal reform activists who have held large scale protests in Grand Central Terminal and have used excessive force in recent months. "These things are not unrelated. We had people marching through the streets of New York City recently," Shea said. "Words matter. And words affect people's behavior."

US shooting
Representational picture Pixabay

New York's mayor, Bill de Blasio, who won the office on promises on mainly reform the issue of aggressive policing of minority communities, also blamed the excessive anti-police sentiments. "Anyone who spews hatred at our officers is aiding and abetting this kind of atmosphere," he said. "It is not acceptable. You could protest for whatever you believe in, but you cannot vilely attack those who are here to protect us. It creates this kind of dynamic," de Blasio added.

New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo, in a tweet, said that he was "horrified by the multiple attacks" on the police. "NY's law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe. These attacks are heinous," he said.

US President Donald Trump also slammed the Democratic Mayor and Governor for the recent shooting in a tweet. "I grew up in New York City and, over many years, got to watch how GREAT NYC's 'Finest' are. Now, because of weak leadership at Governor & Mayor, stand away (water thrown at them) regulations, and lack of support, our wonderful NYC police are under assault. Stop this now!" it read.