What to Know
- Two NYPD officers, Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora, have died after they were shot in Harlem Friday while responding to a domestic violence call
- Rivera's funeral is set for Friday at St. Patrick's Cathedral; Mora' funeral will be held Feb. 2
- Accused gunman Lashawn McNeil died of his wounds Monday after being shot by a third officer
NYPD Officer Wilbert Mora has died after a days-long struggle, following his shooting in Harlem Friday night.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell announced Mora's death Tuesday in a tweet, shortly after he underwent surgery to donate his organs, adding to what she called “incalculable” grief within the department.
Sewell called Mora "3 times a hero. For choosing a life of service. For sacrificing his life to protect others. For giving life even in death through organ donation."
Mora, 27, was taken off life support at a Manhattan hospital four days after a gunman shot him and Officer Jason Rivera, 22, as they responded to a domestic disturbance call. Before dying, Mora's heart, liver, pancreas and both kidneys were donated to others.
Rivera died Friday night, and accused gunman Lashawn McNeil, who was shot by a third officer, died Monday.
Mora had been in critical condition since the shooting. He was moved Sunday from Harlem Hospital to NYU Langone Medical Center, where he died.
Mora and Rivera “were dedicated, courageous and compassionate officers, loved by many. The pain their families feel is immeasurable. We pray for them; we will be strong for them,” Sewell said in the message.
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Rivera's funeral is set for 9 a.m. Friday at St. Patrick's Cathedral, with a viewing service on Thursday from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the church. The viewing service for Mora will be held on Feb. 1 from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. at St. Patrick's Cathedral as well, with the funeral to be held the following day at 10 a.m.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams ordered that flags in the city be flown at half-staff to honor Officer Mora.
Mora entered the police academy in October 2018 and was assigned to the Harlem precinct where the shooting happened since November 2019. He made 33 arrests, police records show.
An officer who worked with Mora and Rivera remembered how Mora’s powerful physique — tall and stocky with a football player’s frame — belied how approachable he was.
“He was a very humble young man. He was always happy, always eager to help any way he could,” Officer Keith Hall said Tuesday.
“I just grieve for his family. I’m grieving on my own, but I can only imagine what the family’s feeling,” said Hall, who has collected more than $310,000 in a fundraiser for the slain officers' families.
“The city should be grieving after losing two great people who were great, great individuals who served the community and then paid the ultimate sacrifice. So we all should be heavy hearted right now,” he said.
Irina Zakirova, a professor who taught Mora at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, remembered the officer as an earnest and engaged student.
“He was so certain about becoming a police officer — a good police officer — and he was looking forward to taking the next step for a police career,” she said Tuesday.
“He cared about people and the community,” Zakirova said, adding that he was particularly interested in finding different and innovative ways in improving relationships between police and the neighborhoods they patrolled.
The head of the city's largest police union, the Police Benevolent Association, said Tuesday “True heroes never die,” and that Mora will "live on in the heart of every New York City police officer from this day forward."
“We are called upon to put ourselves between evil and the good people of this city,” PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement. “Police Officer Mora showed us what it means to carry out our mission with courage, skill and humanity.”
The officers' deaths echoed the 2014 killings of another pair of officers, Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, who were fatally shot by a man who ambushed them as they sat in their patrol car. That was the last time multiple NYPD officers were killed in the same incident; only five such incidents have occurred in the last 20 years, excluding the terror attacks on 9/11.
Auxiliary police officers Yevgeniy Borisovitch and Nicholas Pekearo were gunned down in Greenwich Village on March 14, 2007. The two were chasing a suspect who had just shot and killed a worker inside a pizza restaurant.
In 2004, detectives Patrick Rafferty and Robert Parker were shot and killed after arriving at the scene of a domestic violence suspect attempting to steal a car on Sept. 10. On March 10, 2003, detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin were shot and killed in their car after both were discovered to be police during an undercover drug operation on Staten Island.
Mora and Rivera were the first NYPD officers killed in the line of duty by a gunman since 2017, when Miosotis Familia, 48, was ambushed as she wrote in a notebook in a mobile command post in the Bronx. Two officers killed in 2019 died by friendly fire.
Rivera, Mora and another uniformed officer responded to a domestic disturbance call around 6:15 p.m. Friday on West 135th Street by a mother who said she was fighting with her son, according to police. She did not mention any injuries, or any weapons, on the call.
After officers arrived, they went to a rear bedroom, where McNeil fired multiple times as they approached the door. The man then tried to run from the apartment, but was confronted by the third officer, rookie cop Sumit Sulan, who shot him twice.
In addition to the gun he was firing, sources say another weapon was found under his bed, a privately assembled weapon based on parts purchased and registered in Michigan. The ATF/NYPD Joint Firearms Taskforce was still trying to figure out how the AR-15-type assault weapon got into McNeil's possession, a senior law enforcement official said.
One round was found in the second gun's chamber, law enforcement officials said, along with 19 more in a magazine.
Sources previously said McNeil's mother had told police she was not aware he had guns in the apartment.
According to multiple senior officials with direct knowledge of the investigation, the accused shooter, McNeil, has a history of increasingly rabid belief in anti-government conspiracy theories. Officials are also looking into the possibility that McNeil continued firing after the officers were down, and before he charged down a hallway and was shot himself.
NYPD Shooting Timeline of Events
According to a senior NYPD official with direct knowledge of the investigation, McNeil had been living with his mother since November, after she brought him to New York from Baltimore to help her with another child who was unwell.
McNeil has a history of paranoia and was involved in anti-government groups in Maryland, officials familiar with the investigation said. That embrace of conspiracy theories only deepened once he moved to Harlem, the officials said, and he tried to convert others in his family to his point of view.
Three responding officers spoke with the mother who called regarding a fight she had with her son, according to police. According to the official, the fight was strictly verbal and not physical in nature, and would not likely have led to anything more than a written report.
McNeil's mother and the other son briefly talked with officers in the front of the one-bedroom apartment, police said.
Two officers were then heading to the back bedroom to speak with Lashawn McNeil, while the third stayed with the two family members in the front of the apartment, according to police.
The bedroom was located down a long, narrow hallway, about 30 feet from the front living room where the officers entered, police said. As the officers approached, the door swung open and the suspect, McNeil, opened fire. According to the senior NYPD official, McNeil's mother told him last year not to bring guns to her home, and has claimed to authorities she did not know he had the murder weapon in her apartment.
It was unclear how many shots were fired, but both officers were struck.
As McNeil tried to run from the apartment, he encountered the third officer, who police sources said is a rookie in the NYPD. The officer fired two rounds, striking McNeil in the right arm and head. The third officer was not shot.
The NYPD has said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms/NYPD Joint Firearms Task Force is helping in the investigation into how the gunman obtained and brought the weapons to New York City. The ATF/NYPD Crime Gun Intelligence Center is leading efforts to track all gun intelligence leads.
The entire deadly incident was captured on police officers' body camera, a senior law enforcement official said.
Lashawn McNeil: What We Know About Gunman
The man who allegedly pulled the trigger, killing one officer and leaving another critically injured, has a few minor arrests in his past across three states.
Lashawn McNeil, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was arrested for narcotics in New York City in 2003, for which he was still on probation.
He also has four arrests outside of NYC. McNeil was arrested in South Carolina for unlawful possession of a weapon in 1998.
The rest of his arrests have taken place in Pennsylvania. He was arrested for assaulting a police officer there in 2002, and in 2003 he was nabbed on a felony drug charge as well as a misdemeanor narcotics charge.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell, who has been on the job less than a month and has already had four police shooting incidents in that time, said last week that she was "struggling to find words to express the tragedy we are enduring."
"Tonight, a 22-year-old son, husband, officer and friend was killed because he did what we asked him to do," Sewell said at a press conference at Harlem Hospital Friday night. "We are in mourning and we are angry."
Sewell told the scores of cops who were at the hospital that "our department is hurting, our city is hurting. It is beyond comprehension. I am not sure what words, if any, will carry the weight of this moment, and what we are feeling."
Sewell also asked for prayers for the officers' families, whose pain is "not something anyone can put into words."
Rivera's body was transported from the hospital later Friday evening to the medical examiner's office, given a full escort by a long line of police vehicles. Fellow officers lined the streets to bid farewell to their fallen comrade.
Mayor Adams made an impassioned speech at the hospital, saying that those committing the acts of violence cannot be allowed to divide the city, but rather that "we must save this city together." He called on the federal government to help go the city after those are who are trafficking guns, "constantly carving highways of death, destroying our communities."
"No one will divide this city with their violence. In fact, they're going to unite us, to come together and end this," Adams said. "We must commit ourselves to stop the debate, the dialogue, and come together and realize a gun on our street is a threat to our safety. And we must do everything possible to remove that gun."
In talking to the officers, Adams had a simple message: Don't give up on the city.
"No matter how painful this is, don't give up on the people of this city. Don't feel like they don't want you to do your job ... They want you here to do your job," the mayor said. "Let's protect the people of this city, and not allow anger to get in our way of protecting those who are living with this violence every day. We are going to protect our city, that is our promise and commitment."
Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch got emotional as he called on the public to show support for the police in the wake of the shooting.
"Our hearts are broken, our knees are buckling and we are angry because we have been here before and it happened again," he said.
The fatal incident marked the first time an NYPD officer had been gunned down in the line of duty since Detective Brian Mulkeen was shot killed Sept. 29, 2019. Mulkeen was patrolling the streets around a city apartment complex in the Bronx as part of a unit investigating potential gang activity, when he and his partner tried to apprehend a man who had fled questioning, and a struggle ensued.