ONE POLICE PLAZA — The gunman who killed two police officers as they sat in their patrol car in Bed-Stuy told two bystanders to "watch what I'm going to do" before he walked up to the passenger-side window and opened fire, officials said.
Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, was captured on video approaching two men and asking them for their gang affiliation, NYPD Chief of Department Bob Boyce told reporters Sunday. Brinsley then asked the men to follow him on Instagram and told them to watch what he was about to do.
"He then walks northbound on Tompkins Street, past the two officers, circled back around and goes across the street and comes up behind the officers," the chief said.
The NYPD has not released the video, and the two men Brinsley spoke to are not considered suspects, Boyce said.
Boyce also provided some background about Brinsley and his actions leading up to the ambush.
He said Brinsley was so emotionally unstable that even his mother was afraid of him.
"He had a very troubled childhood, and was often violent," Boyce said. "His mother expressed a fear of him, and she said she hasn’t seen him in one month. Brinsley attempted suicide in the past and attempted to hang himself a year ago."
Though he posted some anti-government sentiments on social media and talked about burning the American flag, police found no gang affiliation or religious fanaticism in his past.
Brinsley started his run of violence Saturday morning in Owings Mills, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore, where he shot his ex-girlfriend, Shaneka Nicole Thompson, 29, at about 6 a.m. after letting himself into her apartment with a stolen key.
When Thompson confronted Brinsley, he shot her in the stomach, then took her cellphone, leaving his phone behind a radiator at her apartment. She identified him to police and is expected to survive.
“She didn’t want anything to do with him," Boyce said. "And that caused the argument."
Brinsley then called Thompson's mom, apologizing for the shooting, saying he shot her daughter accidentally and he hoped she would survive. He took a BoltBus to Manhattan and continued to call Thompson's mother along the way.
Baltimore County Police traced the cellphone signal to the area around the Barclays Center and called the 70th Precinct between 1:30 and 2 p.m., warning Brooklyn police that he posed a serious threat.
There's a nearly three-hour gap when police do not know what Brinsley was doing or where he was. He was wearing a green varsity jacket with a red Indians logo, and investigators are hoping to pick up images of him on surveillance footage.
At 2:46 p.m. Saturday, a minute before he opened fire, killing the two officers, Baltimore County Police faxed a warning to the NYPD about Brinsley, police said.
Brinsley, who has 15 non-violent arrests in Georgia and four in Ohio, fled the crime scene, tracked by two Con Edison workers in their repair truck, who alerted police who chased him into the Myrtle-Willoughby subway stop, Boyce said.
"I can't thank those two individuals enough," the chief said, calling them "courageous."
Police are still looking into what brought Brinsley to the neighborhood.
Boyce said Brinsley had "Brooklyn roots," and his mother lives in the borough, though not in Bed-Stuy.
"It appears he goes back and forth to New York. Right now we don’t have a residence for him. The residence in Georgia that's listed is his sister and he hasn't been there in two years — he’s also estranged from her. He’s estranged from both his sisters."
His father, from whom he is also estranged, lives in New Jersey.
He also has a child in Brooklyn, but does not speak to the child's mother, Boyce said.