MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) — The NYPD and the FBI are investigating after three officers were attacked by a man with a machete just blocks away from Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
The attack happened near 57th and 8th around 9:30 pm on Saturday night, just hours before the ball drop.
The two officers were hospitalized, one with a fractured skull and the other with a bad cut, but expected to recover.
One of the officers was an eight-year veteran while the other was a rookie officer who just graduated from the police academy on Friday.
Moments after the attack, the suspect was shot in the shoulder by police.
Police did not immediately identify the 19-year-old suspect, who was also expected to recover.
The suspect came to New Years Eve in NYC from Maine, and federal and local law enforcement officials are now starting to look through online postings that preliminarily indicate recent extremist Islamic radicalization, law enforcement sources told ABC News.
While his motive remains under investigation, the authorities are not ruling out that the suspect came to NYC specifically to attack police officers, the sources said.
The man has no prior arrests, but was recently reported by concerned family members.
The attack and sound of a gunshot briefly sent some people in the crowd running, but the incident did not affect the festivities in Times Square, which continued uninterrupted.
Mayor Eric Adams said at a news conference that he had spoken to one of the wounded officers as he was being stitched up at the hospital.
“He was in good spirits,” Adams said. “He understood that his role saved lives of New Yorkers today.”
The blocks where the biggest crowds gather to see performances and the midnight ball drop can only be accessed through checkpoints where officers use metal-detecting wands to screen for weapons. Large bags and coolers are banned. Barriers are set up to prevent vehicle attacks in the secure area.
The security perimeter can only extend so far, though. The attack took place on 8th Avenue, which is often packed with thick crowds navigating around the frozen zone or trying to find one of the secure entrances.
Both federal and local law enforcement stressed at an early morning news conference Sunday the attack that injured three NYPD officers appeared to be an isolated incident and there was no larger threat.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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