The New York City Police Department fears a bloody attack on rookie officers may have been inspired by recent terror acts around the world. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Was Zale Thompson's use of a hatchet to attack two New York City police officers terrorism? Top police officials say yes.
"We would describe him as self-radicalized. We would describe him as inspired. We would feel at this time that he was self-directed," said Police Commissioner William Bratton.
Directed Thursday afternoon in Queens to chop rookie officers Kenneth Healey and Joseph Meeker on a crowded Jamaica Avenue. He was shot and killed by officers.
Police say he had the hatchet in a backpack and appeared to have watched the officers for several minutes before the surprise bloody attack. Police say they believe he acted alone.
"He was a convert to Islam approximately two years ago. He is described by family members as a recluse, and by his other family members that he was depressed lately," said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. "We've got a significant amount of evidence to examine."
Police say Thompson served in the Navy but may have been discharged because of drug use. The 32-year-old does not have an arrest history in New York.
The NYPD says he used the Internet to look at various terrorists websites and violent activity.
"Was this an act of terrorism? It appears at this point that that was the suspect's intent," said John Miller, the head of the NYPD's intelligence and counterterrorism division. "We still have a little more investigative work to do to determine if we can document that in another way."
Including his social media. Frank Sha Francois said he was Thompson's Facebook friend and that they attended anti-police brutality rallies. Francois said he doesn't condone violence and can only speculate as to what happened.
"That a lot of people are totally frustrated and fed up of the shootings and killings of innocent, unarmed black people," Francois said. "That could have been a motivating factor. I do not know."
Police don't fully know either and want the public's help in coming forward with anything it knows about Thompson.
In terms the injured officers, Meeker was released from the hospital. Healey received a fractured skull and remains in critical but stable condition.