NEW YORK (Reuters) - The hatchet-wielding man who wounded two New York City police officers, critically injuring one, was a self-radicalized convert to Islam who is believed to have acted alone in what police on Friday called a terrorist attack.
The suspect, Zale Thompson, who was shot dead by two other officers on Thursday afternoon on a Queens street, had made anti-Western postings on social media and visited websites associated with several radical Islamic groups, police told a news conference.
A search of computers seized from the home of Thompson's father in Queens, where the 32-year-old man lived, showed he also spent time reading online about beheadings, a recent intrusion at the White House and attacks in Canada.
"This was a terrorist attack," Commissioner William Bratton said.
Investigators were trying to determine whether Thompson, a black man who converted to Islam two years ago, had any connection to an area mosque. Police said the social media postings of the man described as an unemployed recluse were "anti-government, anti-Western, anti-white."
Still under investigation was the extent of planning involved in the attack, which appeared to be unprovoked and somewhat spontaneous, Bratton said.
"The fact that he was walking around with a hatchet in the backpack makes it clear this individual had some sense of preparation," Bratton said.
The attack on Thursday took place in a Queens shopping district in a matter of 7 seconds, police said.
A group of four police officers were posing for a freelance photographer when Thompson charged them, swinging the hatchet. One officer was struck in the arm and another in the head before the other two officers opened fire, killing Thompson.
A female bystander was struck by a stray bullet and critically wounded.