A man reported to have Islamic "extremist leanings" attacked police officers in New York City with a hatchet Thursday, injuring two before being shot dead, police and a monitoring group said.
The man, identified in the U.S. media as Zale Thompson, had posted an array of statements on YouTube and Facebook that "display a hyper-racial focus in both religious and historical contexts, and ultimately hint at his extremist leanings," the SITE monitoring group said.
Four police officers in the city's Queens Borough were posing for a photograph at the request of a freelance photographer when the man walked up and without saying a word attacked them, a city hall statement said.
One officer was hit in the arm and another in the head before the officers shot and killed the man, according to police commissioner Bill Bratton.
He said police were investigating the motive for the attack, Bratton said, adding that it was too early to determine whether it was terror-related.
A 29-year-old bystander was accidentally hit by a bullet in the lower back and taken to a hospital, while the man who took the photograph was cooperating with police and was not considered a suspect, Bratton said.
Police described the assailant as being around 32 and having dark skin.
SITE, which monitors radical Muslim groups, said that in a comment Thompson had posted to a pro-Islamic State video on Sept.13, 2014, he described "jihad as a justifiable response to the oppression of the 'Zionists and the Crusaders.'"
Man with ‘Islamic extremist leanings’ attacks New York police