This afternoon in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, an armed man approached two NYPD officers sitting inside their patrol car and opened fire, shooting at least one in the head. Both officers were rushed to the nearby Woodhull hospital, and both have been pronounced dead. The gunman who shot himself after running into a nearby subway station is also dead.

In response to this horrible, senseless tragedy, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James stated:

My deepest thoughts and prayers are with the families of the police officers killed in the line of duty today. Every day, New York City Police Officers put themselves in harm's way to protect us. Today, the entire city mourns with the NYPD. We will never forget the sacrifice these brave officers made to keep our city safe, and we honor the service of New York's Finest."

Reverend Al Sharpton, has also released a statement on behalf of Eric Garner's family in light of the reports that claim the shooting was an act of revenge for Garner's death:

"I have spoken to the Garner family and we are outraged by the early reports of the police killed in Brooklyn today, Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases.

We have stressed at every rally and march that anyone engaged in any violence is an enemy to the pursuit of justice for Eric Garner and Michael Brown. We have been criticized at National Action Network for not allowing rhetoric or chanting of violence and would abruptly denounce it at all of our gatherings. The Garner family and I have always stressed that we do not believe that all police are bad, in fact we have stressed that most police are not bad.

We plan to hold a press conference in the morning to express our outrage and our condolences to the families and the police department. Details to follow."

NYPD Commissioner Bratton will hold a briefing on the shootings tonight at Woodhull Hospital.

Though the gunman allegedly carried out the shooting to avenge the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, it's clear he had no interest in real justice or progress. No, this horrible and selfish act operates outside the already broken system of justice, and the sheer tragedy of more death only brings the conversations surrounding police behavior and race to a grinding halt. Invoking the names of the unarmed men slain by police in order to kill police is an unfortunate and appalling perversion of the growth we have made in wake of their tragic deaths. They had nothing to do with this. Why must we deny ourselves the peace and healing our country so desperately needs right now?

Image via AP.

Update:

At a press conference this evening, Commissioner Bratton confirmed the two officers killed as Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. The gunman has been identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley.

Statement from Attorney General Eric Holder, via BuzzFeed:

I condemn this afternoon's senseless shooting of two New York City police officers in the strongest possible terms. This was an unspeakable act of barbarism, and I was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of these two brave officers in the line of duty.

On behalf of all those who serve in the United States Department of Justice, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the officers' loved ones and colleagues. I will make available all of the resources of the Department to aid the NYPD in investigating this tragedy.

This cowardly attack underscores the dangers that are routinely faced by those who protect and serve their fellow citizens. As a nation we must not forget this as we discuss the events of the recent past. These courageous men and women routinely incur tremendous personal risks, and place their lives on the line each and every day, in order to preserve public safety. We are forever in their debt.

Our nation must always honor the valor — and the sacrifices — of all law enforcement officers with a steadfast commitment to keeping them safe. This means forging closer bonds between officers and the communities they serve, so that public safety is not a cause that is served by a courageous few, but a promise that's fulfilled by police officials and citizens working side by side.