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Reeling after police shooting, Bed Stuy residents remain uneasy

New Yorkers flocked to the site where two NYPD officers were shot on Saturday to pMiles Dixon/Metro

Residents near the scene where two NYPD cops were killed in Brooklyn both mourned the deaths and said they fear what Saturday's murders means for their community.

Less than a day since the shooting, a makeshift memorials stands feet away from where officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were in their patrol car before suspect Ismaaiyl Brinsley approached from the rear passenger side and killed both men.

Officials said the officers were parked on the corner of Tompkins and Myrtle avenues to help with a recent spate of violence in the neighborhood.

Many of the Yorkers living at the Tompkins Houses across the street from the shooting said they were still reeling from Saturday but were unsure what it meant for their community going forward.

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"It's not fair. It wasn't from anyone over here," Tanya Clarke, 22. "It's going to be scary now, we don't know what to expect or what's going to happen next.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters that suspect Brinsley came to Brooklyn from Baltimore after allegedly shooting his girlfriend hours before he shot the officers. Bratton said Brinsley had ties to East Flatbush, leaving some Tompkins residents confused.

"What was he doing here?" asked John Foster, 58. "He's not even from here."

Foster insisted that while the community's relationships with police are still a mixed bag, the neighborhood's improved over the years.

Neighbor Elizabeth Johnson, 65, agreed. She said her own son has been stopped excessively by police and threatened by local gangs. There are good cops and bad cops, she said, just like there are good and bad people.

"But we couldn't survive here without our police," Johnson told Metro before she pulled out a candle to lay at the memorial.

Shaquille Carter, 20, said he felt relations with cops and especially young residents has actually worsened. He recounted seeing some agitators mocking the growing police presence in front of the crime scene on Saturday night.

"Some people were saying stuff like, 'Ha ha, that's what you all get,'" Carter said. "You could see that [police] were mad and they were crying. That's not just today — it's going to last for a while."

Emotions ran just as high with New Yorkers paying their respects to the deceased officers.

Donna Howley of Bensonhurst drove up with her husband to lay a small wreath decorated with a ribbon at the impromptu memorial. Their daughter is an NYPD officer, Howley said, and it was the least they could do.

But where most in the immediate community were loathe to blame anyone but Brinsley, Howley echoed comments made by police union leaders who blamed Mayor Bill de Blasio for creating an environment that encouraged activists to bad mouth the NYPD.

"I feel like we're back in the 1970s when racial tension was out of control," she said. "I blame the mayor and the president. I feel they have incited this racial tension."

Dee Williams, who said she grew up in the neighborhood and still has family in Bed-Stuy, said emotions were still too raw for people to draw conclusions one way or another.

"Its a time for reflection right now," Williams said after she lit a candle for the memorial. "All lives matter, and we should put politics to the side just like the mayor said last night. It's not time to be jumping on bandwagons."

 
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