The girlfriend of the man who fatally shot NYPD Officer Miosotis Familia early Wednesday morning had warned police that he was acting erratically 2 1/2 hours before he opened fire, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Thursday.
Just one day after the shooting that left the NYPD and Bronx residents reeling, a clearer picture of what preceded the attack began to emerge, with officials detailing the 911 calls and their search through the home of Familia’s killer, Alexander Bonds.
In the 911 call, Bonds’ girlfriend described him as an emotionally disturbed person walking along Westchester Avenue, initially by 158th Street, according to Boyce.
She said “he was acting erratically and paranoid of the police and EMS,” Boyce said at a news conference following the NYPD’s swearing-in ceremony in Queens.
A sector car and EMS personnel started to canvas the area, heading west on Westchester Avenue, he said. “She specifically said he was unarmed and acting just a little off, but he was harmless,” Boyce added.
“Each time [police] would pass by, Bonds would duck out of sight,” he said, adding they then tried a park he might be hiding in but were unable to find him. His girlfriend then took a cab back to his home and waited for him there.
Familia, 48, was sitting in a mobile command center near the corner of Morris Avenue and East 183rd Street in Fordham Heights when police said Bonds walked up to the window and fired a handgun, hitting the officer in the face. She later died at St. Barnabas Hospital.
Bonds’ girlfriend told investigators he started “acting erratically” over the past two weeks, according to Boyce. He was paranoid, convinced that police and EMS were following him.
“And each time he would duck out of the way and evade them whenever they drove by, well before the incident,” Boyce said.
Bonds, 34, had gone to St. Barnabas Hospital for treatment of a psychological problem on July 1, according to Boyce, but he was later released on the same day.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered a review of the hospital’s actions and policies related to admitting, treating and discharging Bonds to determine if all laws and guidelines were followed.
“Reports that the individual responsible for the death of Officer Miosotis Familia sought a psychiatric exam, and was quickly released from hospital care only days before this horrific attack raise many questions,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Officers who searched his apartment after the shooting found antidepressant and antipsychotic medications and six cell phones, which officials said would be analyzed. It was unclear if Bonds was taking the medications, Boyce said.
An analysis of the gun Bonds used during the shooting – which was stolen from Charleston, West Virginia, in 2012 – showed two discharged rounds and two live rounds still in it, Boyce said. Police believe he fired once at Familia, killing her, and once at other officers who returned fire, killing him.
Investigators were also looking into a possible incident several years ago in which Bonds, along with other people, may have assaulted a police officer with brass knuckles in Queens, Boyce added.
Just weeks before he went after Familia, Bonds was also visited by a parole officer. He had been on parole for an armed robbery in Syracuse since 2013 after serving eight years in prison. The parole officer went to his apartment at 6:20 a.m. on June 15, Boyce said.
The deadly shooting also put a spotlight on the issue of bulletproofing NYPD vehicles. While the initial plan did not include fixed posts, like a mobile command unit, Commissioner James O’Neill said the department was “taking a look at all of our fixed posts now.”
“Anytime there’s a tragedy we always talk about learning from that tragedy,” O’Neill said. “Just make no mistake about it, Officer Familia is dead because of one reason and one reason only: that’s Alexander Bonds and his hatred of the police.”
A high-ranking NYPD official said Bonds’ “I just hate cops” rhetoric was the suspected motive of the shooting. Bonds had posted complaints and accusations against the police on social media on several occasions.
“We all came on this job to do good and make a difference, but there’s an inherent risk in what we do,” O’Neill added.
Familia’s sister, Adriana Sanchez, said bulletproofing windows on police vehicles was one of the first thoughts she had after learning of her sister’s death.
“They should have done this a long time ago,” said Sanchez, 39, of New Jersey. “That’s the first thing I said.”
The initial program was focused on retrofitting 3,800 police vehicles with ballistic panels, which was then expanded to include the bulletproof glass, said Robert Martinez, the deputy commissioner of the Support Services Bureau.
Currently, the department has outfitted about 2,200 vehicles with the ballistic panels, he said. The department expects to complete all 3,800 by the end of the year.
Later on Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration announced that all 72 mobile command vehicles would also be retrofitted with bulletproof panels and windows by the end of the year.