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Police fatally shoot two Queens men who attacked cops

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The rookie cop who was seriously injured in the head by an ax-wielding Queens Village man is in stable condition and will now undergo rehabilitation after leaving Jamaica Hospital, hospital officials said Wednesday.

The attacker of the four rookie uniformed officers on Jamaica Avenuewas inspired by Islamic terror groups and acted alone, Police Commissioner William Bratton said after the Oct. 23 violent episode.

Zale Thompson, 32, was shot dead after he injured two of the four police officers with an 18-inch-hatchet, according to Bratton, who said the rookies were posing for a photo after they were approached by a photographer.

Three days later in an unrelated incident, a police officer fatally shot a Flushing man who lunged at him with a box cutter.

The Jamaica confrontation on the busy and commercial street also left an innocent bystander, a 29-year-old woman, in critical condition after she was hit by a stray bullet fired by the cops, said the police commissioner.

“It appears just from the electronic forensics that this is something he had been thinking about for some time,” Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller said.

He pointed out the Queens Village man was inspired by the recent attack on the Canadian Parliament.

Bratton, who described the man as “self-radicalized,” said Thompson was inspired by groups like Al Qaeda and Islamic State.

“It would appear at this time that he was self-directed in his activities,” the police commissioner said.

Police shot and killed Thompson during the seven-second violent encounter at 162nd Street and Jamaica Avenue. According to Bratton, the man, without speaking a word and unprovoked, swung the ax at Officer Joseph Meeker, 24, striking him in the arm.

Then he continued attacking the cops, hitting Kenneth Healey, 25, in the head.

Police officials said the other two rookie cops fired their weapons at Thompson, fatally shooting him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Both Meeker and Healey were taken to Jamaica Hospital. Meeker was released from the hospital last Friday.

Healey, with his head bandaged, was released from the hospital and taken to a rehabilitation center in Queens, a spokesman for Jamaica Hospital said.

One of the police bullets hit the 29-year-old woman in her lower back, Bratton said. The injured bystander was rushed to Jamaica Hospital, where she underwent surgery and was recovering from her wounds. She was listed in stable condition, Bratton said.

The four officers graduated from the Police Academy July 8 and were assigned to the 103rd Police Precinct in Jamaica.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said, “this illustrates once again that at any time, any place, anywhere a police officer could be set upon.”

Days after the ax incident in Jamaica, a police officer from the 109th Police Precinct in Flushing fatally shot a 29-year-old man when he tried to attack another cop with a box cutter, police officials said.

The incident occurred in the morning of Oct. 26 near the corner of Kissena Boulevard and Ash Avenue, authorities said.

According to the police, hours before the fatal shooting, the man had gone to New York Hospital Queens complaining of chest pains. He was released but went back to the medical center, this time armed with the knife and demanding syringes, the NYPD said.

When two uniformed cops approached the suspect on Kissena Boulevard, he pulled out the utility knife and attempted to attack one of the officers, the NYPD said.

Police said one of the cops shot twice at the suspect, hitting him once in the torso.

He was rushed to New York Hospital Queens, where he was pronounced dead.

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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