NEW YORK (AP) — Police have increased security at some stationhouses and made at least four arrests over threats made since the deadly shootings of two officers last weekend, and the mayor vowed Wednesday to protect officers.
Emergency Services Unit officers were providing additional protection at two Brooklyn precincts, where they were stationed starting Tuesday. Police said Wednesday they were remaining vigilant while investigating the origin of the threats, which they didn't detail.
Meanwhile, an 18-year-old was facing charges of making a terroristic threat after authorities said he put up a menacing photo and message online on Saturday hours after the afternoon ambush of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos by a gunman who had signaled his plans on social media.
Teenager Devon Coley posted a photo on his Facebook page Saturday night of a gunman shooting at a patrol car, symbols showing a gun pointed at an officer's head and a caption with his local precinct's number and "next," according to a court complaint.
His lawyer, Daniel Ades, said Wednesday that the state terroristic-threats law was being misapplied.
"Nobody's condoning threats against police," he said, but "even if this is proven, it doesn't amount to a crime." He noted that the law requires a "reasonable expectation or fear" that a threat meant to influence government or intimidate the public is about to be carried out.
Prosecutors sought $250,000 bail for Coley, who was already facing unrelated gun possession and other charges, the New York Post reported. Court records show a judge released him without bail on the threats charge.
Officials said they had assessed hundreds of online postings and calls to emergency lines, initiating about 40 threat probes, with about half of those being closed or referred to other agencies.
The police department said one 52-year-old man had been arrested after walking into a Manhattan stationhouse and saying: "If I punch you in the face, how much time will I get?" and refusing to leave.
In addition, two Staten Island residents were arrested in separate incidents on Tuesday. A 16-year-old was arrested on a charge of making a terrorist threat and a 46-year-old man was charged with making a false report.
Mayor Bill de Blasio denounced the various threats Wednesday and said the city "will protect the men and women who protect us."
"New York City stands with our police officers in this time of tragedy, as we do every day, and our city will not be intimidated by those spouting hateful, violent messages," he said in a statement.
In Colorado, a 33-year-old military veteran was arrested Monday for posting online threats calling for the killing of current and former police officers under the name "Vets Hunting Cops."
And in Northern California, presidents of the three biggest Northern California police unions warned that recent anti-police sentiments are threatening officers' safety. Recent demonstrations against police brutality have devolved into tasteless vilification of officers, including chants calling for dead police officers, the union heads said in a letter posted online Tuesday.