NEW YORK CITY, NY – On Sunday, December 13th, Law Enforcement Today reported that moments after an outdoor Christmas concert ended at the Cathedral of Saint John the Devine, a gunman mounted the cathedral steps and opened fire.
A choir that had just finished Christmas caroling at the cathedral was lingering atop the cathedral steps when the suspect, who had two handguns, approached the church doors and opened fire into the air.
The gunshots rang out Sunday afternoon, at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Concert goers were sent fleeing and taking cover in the Morningside Heights neighborhood.
A detective, a sergeant and a police officer who were at the event fired 15 rounds, killing the man, New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told reporters following the late-afternoon violence on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Commissioner Shea said,
“It is by the grace of God today that no one besides the gunman was struck.”
The gunman, Luis Manuel Vasquez Gomez, was dressed in black with his face obscured by a white baseball cap and a face mask. He held a silver pistol in one hand and a black one in the other as he stepped from behind a stone column at the top of the staircase.
Witnesses told police the man was yelling “kill me” as he fired.
“Kill me! Kill me!” Vasquez shouted as he stood alone atop the staircase in front of the church’s large doors, which were decorated in festive lighted wreaths.
The officers commanded:
“Drop the gun!”
Police returned fire and Vasquez, 52, was struck once in the head. He died at a hospital next to the church.
Vasquez, a native of the Dominican Republic, has a history of violent offenses, including shooting at police officers and a woman in 1990. He has had several arrests spanning 30 years and was wanted for threatening someone with a firearm this past summer, the police said.
The contents of his backpack — a canister of gasoline, rope, knives and a Bible — suggested a “sinister plot“, the police commissioner said during a news conference in front of the church after the shooting.
On Tuesday, it was discovered that investigators found a note in one of Mr. Vasquez’s jacket pockets saying he planned to take hostages at the cathedral, two law enforcement officials confirmed.
The note detailed his apparent attack plans in writing, claiming his goal was to take hostages — and never expected to return home.
A gunman opened fire during a holiday concert outside of The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. A police officer returned the fire, killing the suspect. No one else was injured. https://t.co/nYVVkXxlrp
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) December 14, 2020
An NYPD spokesman told NBC New York that Vasquez wrote that he would take hostages at the Cathedral of St. John the Devine, but that none would be hurt unless his demands were ignored.
In the note, the 52-year-old wrote that he was going to keep the hostages unless the U.S., its banks, and companies gave money to help the needy of Latin America.
NYC cathedral gunman reportedly identified as Bronx man with alleged history of attempted murder https://t.co/BcrqOt66Nn
— Fox News (@FoxNews) December 14, 2020
Vasquez expressed the:
“U.S.(is a) regime which has committed robbery and more against the people of Latin America.”
He also wrote that he did not envision returning to his Bronx apartment, where he lived with his mother. He did not outline or explain the plan to take hostages either, perhaps explaining why rope, duct tape and knives were with him at the time, in addition to the guns he had fired off multiple times.
It remains unclear why Vasquez chose to target the historic Morningside Heights cathedral.
Witness Judy Romer said:
“The shooter said, ‘just shoot me! Shoot me! Kill me! Kill me!’ He kept daring the police officer to do so,”
Witness Judy Romer, said:
“I ran as fast as I could but only after the other people ran. I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Other than the note left by the gunman, there are so far, no other clues as to what motivated him.
Police are surmising that this was a classic “suicide by cop” scenario.
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Police arrest mall mass shooting suspect – and he’s only 15. Mayor outraged it happened in ‘gun free zone’.
November 23, 2020
WAUWATOSA, WI- Further developments are being made in the investigation of a mall shooting in Wisconsin that left eight people injured. A manhunt to find the gunman ensued immediately following the shooting, now local police have made an arrest in connection to the shooting spree.
The shooting occurred on Friday at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. At approximately 2:50pm shots rang out near an entrance to Macy’s, a department store. Witnesses reported that the mall quickly descended to chaos with people fleeing the mall and gunshots being fired rapidly. One shop owner said that he heard up to 15 shots before the shooting ended.
Another witness recounted the terror that mall goers experienced:
“A guy walked in Macy’s and apparently just started open firing on people. And as he walked out into the mall area, he started shooting, people just starting running.”
Live coverage: An active shooter investigation is underway at Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.https://t.co/JA3El6Girh
— PM Breaking News (@PMBreakingNews) November 20, 2020
Eight mall shoppers were wounded during the shooting but, miraculously, none sustained life threatening injuries. Police arrived on scene almost immediately after calls came in reporting an ‘active shooter’ at the mall.
Wauwatosa mayor Dennis McBride spoke about the shooting and stated that local police are investigating the crime:
“The Wauwatosa Police Department is currently involved in an active shooter incident a Mayfair Mall in Wauwatosa. Through WPD’s Public Information Officer, more information will be released as it becomes available and is confirmed.”
The mayor also said that, while a large number of officers are working at the crime scene, it will “take time” before information is gathered and released:
“There are approximately 75 police officers on scene at this time. It will take time to provide additional, and perhaps, more accurate information, but information will be provided as it becomes available.”
Now, new information has been released regarding the manhunt for the shooter. In a press conference on Sunday Wauwatosa police announced the arrest of the suspect, but declined to release further details due to the suspects shockingly young age.
Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber stated:
“The Wauwatosa Police Department is pleased to announce the arrest of a 15 year old Hispanic male in connection with the shooting at Mayfair Mall. The suspected firearm used in this incident was recovered at the scene of the arrest.”
The chief divulged that the boy was arrested during a traffic stop where police “pulled over a car and scooped him up”.
Weber also spoke about the quick response by officers:
“Around 2:49pm, officers were notified of shots fired inside the Mall, near lower level Macy’s. Officers were on scene, providing medical aid to victims within 30 seconds of notification.”
Later his statement Weber explained part of the reasoning behind withholding the suspect’s information:
“Photos of our suspect were not released to media for fear of compromising the investigation and potential destruction of evidence.”
The 15 year old’s identity is also being kept from the public due to privacy laws for minors.
Following the shooting officers secured the location and the mall closed. Mall management then stated that the mall would remain closed the day following the shooting.
The Mayfair Mall property has been cleared and is secure. Mayfair Mall management has indicated that the mall will be closed tomorrow, Saturday, November 21. Law enforcement personnel will remain at the mall into the night processing the scene.
— Wauwatosa Police (WI) (@WauwatosaPD) November 21, 2020
Despite the shooting taking place only two days prior, Chief Weber maintained that the mall is a safe place to shop and encouraged community members to provide support to Mayfair:
“Mayfair Mall is a wonderful place to shop and is a safe place to be. Unfortunately, in our society, an incident of this type can happen at any time in any place. I encourage people to show their support for Mayfair, they have been wonderful partners to us at the police department for many years.”
The chief’s reasoning is due primarily to preliminary findings in the investigation. Local police claim that the shooting was not a random act but the “result of an altercation” between two parties:
“Preliminary investigation has led us to believe that this shooting was not a random act, and was the result of an altercation. We will continue to work diligently to interview the many witnesses, as well as the victims who were injured, to identify and apprehend the suspect.”
Our thoughts go out to our community, especially those who were injured and affected by the incident today. Events like this shake a community, and we remain committed to protecting those who live in and visit Wauwatosa.
— Wauwatosa Police (WI) (@WauwatosaPD) November 21, 2020
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Author: Chris Walsh