Funeral services are set for one of the two NYPD officers fatally shot in Brooklyn as family members of both officers make their first public statements thanking the public and decrying the killer's apparent hatred for police.
Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were ambushed Saturday afternoon by 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the final act in a rampage that began when he shot and wounded his ex-girlfriend at her home outside Baltimore, then made threatening posts online, including a vow to put "wings on pigs" and references to high-profile cases of police officers shooting unarmed black men.
After shooting the officers, Brinsley ran into a subway station and committed suicide.
Ramos' 13-year-old son Jaden, who attends middle school in Brooklyn, said in a Facebook post: "He was the best father I could ask for. It's horrible that someone gets shot dead just for being a police officer. Everyone says they hate cops but they are the people they call for help. I will always love you and I will never forget you. RIP Dad."
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Moments earlier, Jaden Ramos posted, "This is the worst day of My life."
Ramos, who celebrated his 40th birthday this month, joined the NYPD in 2012 after working as a school security officer. He was a lifelong Brooklyn resident, living in the same Cypress Hills section where he had grown up.
On Tuesday, the New York State Chaplain Task Force said Ramos was studying to become a volunteer chaplain and was set to go to a graduation ceremony about an hour after he was killed. A spokesman for the task force said that Ramos had wanted to be a full-time minister after retiring from the NYPD.
He was married with two sons: Jaden and Justin, a sophomore at Bowdoin College in Maine.
Bowdoin said it will pick up Justin's tuition bills for his remaining years at the school. The New York Yankees, through their Silver Shield Foundation, had offered to cover college education costs for both of Rafael Ramos' children.
Liu's widow Pei Xia Chen said in a brief, tearful statement to reporters outside her Brooklyn home Monday evening: "We the Liu family would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to the police department, our neighbors and the New York City community for the help and support they have provided. We would also like to express condolences for the Ramos family. We will get through this together."
The 32-year-old Liu, whose family emigrated from China when he was 12 years old, had been a member of the police force for seven years, after serving previously in the police auxiliary. He moved this year to a home in Brooklyn's Gravesend section and got married just two months ago.
Liu's parents, from the city of Toishan in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, are still limited in their English. A police sergeant, James Ng, served as translator for them at Brooklyn's Woodhull Hospital, where Liu was taken after the shooting.
"A lot of Chinese families want their children to become doctors and lawyers," said Ng. "He came here and wanted to become a police officer."
Liu attended Lafayette High School, then Kingsboro Community College and the College of Staten Island.
"He was looking forward to having his own family," his family said in a written statement. "Wenjian was proud to be a New York City officer."
Ramos was very active at his church, Christ Tabernacle in Glendale, Queens, where he served as an usher, and was part of the marriage and life group ministries.
"Ralph was definitely a family man," read a statement from the church communications director, Janice de Castro. "He always talked about his kids and how well they were doing athletically and academically. He loved his family and his church."
"He was a humble man and was happy to help at any capacity; helping people to their seats, moms with their baby carriages or the elderly in and out of our elevator," the church said.
A wake for Ramos will be held from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at Christ Tabernacle Church, and then the funeral will be held there at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Liu's family is traveling to the U.S. from China and will decide on arrangements after they arrive, NYPD Commissioner Bratton said.
Ramos' aunt, Lucy Ramos, thanked all who shared their sympathies "for our beloved member" and called for reflection "on this tragic loss."
John Rodriguez, president of the 75th Precinct Community Council, said that reflection should include how to repair relations between the city's administration and its police force.
"My mayor, you need to sit down, you need to get everything corrected," he said.
Rodriguez added that he felt the local Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president "was very upset at that moment" when he insinuated that the killings of Ramos and officer Wenjian Liu could be tied to the mayor's lack of support for the department.
PBA President Patrick Lynch said Saturday night that there was "blood on many hands," including those of the mayor. De Blasio responded that Lynch's remarks were "irresponsible, overheated rhetoric."
Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder directed the Justice Department to expedite death benefits to the officers' families, telling officials to inform them of the program and offer help in submitting a claim, the Justice Department said. Holder wants the families' benefit applications to be expedited, the department said. The benefits are administered by the department's Office of Justice Programs and are paid to relatives of first responders who die in the line of duty.