Cops Shoot Knife-Wielding Man to Death in Morningside Heights
MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS — NYPD officers shot and killed an emotionally disturbed man who threatened them with a foot-long knife in a Morningside Avenue apartment Tuesday night, police said.
Mohamed Bah, 28, was naked and armed with a knife inside his family's fifth-floor apartment at 113 Morningside Ave., near West 124th Street, when police arrived at the scene shortly before 7 p.m., police said.
They were called there by Bah's mother, Hawa, who flew to the city from Guinea after becoming concerned that he sounded irrational in their phone conversations.
"He wasn't feeling good," Hawa Bah, 56, said. "I wanted to take him to the hospital.
"You're sick and you need treatment," Hawa Bah told her son.
Sources said the mother told police that he had no known psychiatric problems in his history.
When cops arrived, Bah had barricaded himself in the apartment.
"You knocked on the wrong door," Mohamed Bah told the cops, according to Hawa Bah. "I'm tired. I just want to relax."
"Leave me alone!" Mohamed Bah screamed at the cops, according to Mohamed Bah's cousin, Oumou Camara.
But cops ordered Bah to open the door, police and witnesses said.
"Come out, Mohamed! We're not going anywhere!" cops yelled at Bah, according to neighbor Marcus Weaver.
Bah briefly opened the door to police wearing no clothes and holding a knife, prompting police to pull the door closed for their own protection.
Cops inserted a camera underneath the apartment door and saw that Bah was still holding the knife, sources said.
Hawa Bah pleaded with the cops — who relatives said had their guns drawn — to show restraint and let her calm her son down.
"I said when he hears my voice, he'll open the door," Hawa Bah said. "They said, 'Just go away. We'll check and take him to the hospital. We'll take good care of him.'"
Mohamed Bah reopened the door — this time dressed in shorts and a shirt and still gripping the knife — and Emergency Service Unit cops ordered him to drop the weapon, sources said.
When he refused, cops Tasered him, struck him with rubber projectiles, and Tasered him a second time, sources added.
"I heard rumbling," said Weaver, 23, who lives on the fourth-floor. "It sounded like fighting."
Undeterred, Bah kept coming at police, officials said. He slashed one officer's bulletproof vest and punctured a hole in a first aid kit attached to the vest of another officer, cops added.
That's when the officers shot Bah in the torso.
"I heard five shots," Weaver said. "One after another."
Investigators were still trying to determine how many shots were fired, police said.
Bah was rushed to St. Luke's Hospital, where he died, police said.
"Why did they kill him?" Hawa Bah said Wednesday. "They killed him for nothing. They killed an innocent person for nothing."
Camara said Bah's relatives believe cops could have detained Bah without shooting him.
"They said they'd handle it themselves, but they shot him," she said. "There was no reason to shoot him."
Bah, who would have celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday, had stopped attending marketing classes at Borough of Manhattan Community College, sources and relatives said. He drove a cab, too, but had stopped showing up for work about a month ago.
The shock of the shooting was still being felt in the neighborhood Wednesday morning.
"I never in a million years thought he'd go like that," Weaver said of Bah.
Bah was remembered by neighbors as a peaceful man.
'He was really nice, humble," said Nadine Latouche, who lives on the third floor. "He wasn't violent."