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Outrage after gunman ambushes police twice in New York City over 12 hours

The gunman was taken into custody Sunday after attacks that morning and the night before wounded two officers.

NEW YORK — Leaders in New York City are blaming an ambush on police officers there on an atmosphere of anti-police rhetoric. The gunman was taken into custody Sunday after attacks that morning and the night before wounded two officers. 

New York City's Police Commissioner Dermot Shea lashed out at activists who have held demonstrations against excessive force by police in recent months. Shea didn't offer any evidence that the gunman knew of those protests or was influenced by them. 

A leader of police reform activists says it was irresponsible for Shea and Mayor Bill de Blasio to link the violence to the recent demonstrations.

Both the police commissioner and mayor called the gunfire in the Bronx “an assassination attempt.” 

Shea said two uniformed officers were sitting in a police van on Saturday night when a man engaged them in conversation and then pulled out a gun “without provocation.” The man fired multiple shots, striking one officer in the chin and neck. 

Paul Stroffolino, the officer injured in the first shooting, was released from a hospital Sunday. The commissioner says the officer is “lucky to be alive” and is expected to make a full recovery.

Shea said the incident started when the man approached the officers' van. He man asked for directions, at which point he pulled out a gun and reportedly fired multiple shots at the officers, hitting the officer in the driver's seat in the chin and neck. The officers did not return fire.

The second police officer shot in the Bronx happened hours later. Police said the shooting was at the headquarters of the 41st precinct. 

De Blasio tweeted that officers handled the shooting at the precinct with "heroism and extraordinary skill."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a tweet Sunday that he was “horrified by the multiple attacks” on police. 

And President Trump tweeted that New York officers have been under attack because of Cuomo and de Blasio's policies.

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Credit: New York Police Department
New York Police Department shows a police van with a bullet hole above the door handle after a shooting in the Bronx borough of New York on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (AP)