AP

Young officer slain in Harlem joined to help ‘chaotic city’

Jan 22, 2022, 2:28 PM
In an undated photo released by the NYPD, New York Police Department officer Jason Rivera who was killed in a police shooting, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, in New York City, is seen. Officials say a New York City police officer Jason Rivera, 22 years old, has been killed and fellow officer Wilbert Mora, 27 years old, was critically wounded in a shooting in Harlem. The officers had been responding to a call Friday about an argument between a woman and her adult son. (AP photo)
(AP photo)

NEW YORK (AP) — The 22-year-old New York City police officer who was shot to death while responding to a call in a Harlem apartment came from an immigrant family and grew up in a community with strained police relations, but joined the force to make a difference in the “chaotic city,” he once wrote.

“I know that something as small as helping a tourist with directions, or helping a couple resolve an issue, will put a smile on someone’s face,” Jason Rivera wrote to his commanding officer in 2020 when he was a probationary police officer.

Rivera and Officer Wilbert Mora were shot Friday night while answering a call about an argument between a woman and her adult son. Mora, 27, was critically wounded and “fighting for his life” Saturday, said Mayor Eric Adams.

The man police say shot them, Lashawn J. McNeil, 47, also was critically wounded and hospitalized, authorities said.

The shooting is the latest in a string of crimes that have unnerved the nation’s largest city.

In the three weeks since Adams took office, a 19-year-old cashier was shot to death as she worked a late-night shift at a Burger King, a woman was pushed to her death in a subway station, and a baby was critically injured when she was hit by a stray bullet as she sat in a parked car with her mother. With the Harlem shooting Friday night, four police officers had been shot in as many days.

And the city is recovering from its deadliest fire in three decades, a Bronx apartment blaze that killed 17 people.

“It’s hard to believe, but it’s only been three weeks, and it has been nonstop since then,” Adams told residents at a gun violence roundtable Saturday. “But I want you to know in a very clear way that I am more energized. I’m not tired. I’m not stressed out.”

Rivera joined the force in November 2020.

Growing up in Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood, he noticed tensions with police, according to a brief essay titled “Why I Became a Police Officer,” a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

“I remember one day when I witnessed my brother being stopped and frisked. I asked myself, why are we being pulled over if we are in a taxi?” he wrote. “My perspective on police and the way they police really bothered me.”

But eventually he noticed the department working to improve relationships, and he wanted to be involved.

“I realized how impactful my role as a police officer would go in this chaotic city,” he wrote.

Anti-domestic violence advocate Stephanie McGraw, who knew Rivera through her work with the precinct, said he was energetic and enthusiastic.

“He was so eager to make a difference in this community,” said McGraw, founder of We All Really Matter.

Mora is similarly devoted to the community, she said.

Police said the gun used in Friday night’s shooting, a .45-caliber Glock with a high-capacity magazine capable of holding up to 40 extra rounds, had been stolen in Baltimore in 2017.

Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul both said federal authorities need to do more to round up stolen guns like the one used in the Harlem shooting. Hochul, at an appearance in Buffalo on Saturday, called it a “scourge of illegal guns on our streets.”

Authorities said the three officers went to the apartment after a call came in from a woman needing help with McNeil, her son. Officers spoke with the woman and another son, but there was no mention of a weapon.

Rivera and Mora walked from the front of the apartment down a hallway, and McNeil swung open a bedroom door and opened fire, Chief of Detectives James Essig said.

As McNeil tried to flee, a third officer who had stayed with McNeil’s mother in the front of the apartment shot at McNeil and wounded him in the head and arm, Essig said.

“This was just not an attack on these brave officers,” Adams said Friday night. “This was an attack on the city of New York.”

Mora has been with the NYPD for four years.

McNeil was on probation for a 2003 drug conviction in New York City. He also had several out-of-state arrests. In 1998, he was arrested in South Carolina on suspicion of unlawfully carrying a pistol, but records show the matter was later dismissed. In 2002, he was arrested in Pennsylvania on suspicion of assaulting a police officer, Essig said.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
7 days ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
9 days ago
The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
10 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
11 days ago
Debbie, left, and Chet Barnett place flowers at a memorial outside of the Chesapeake, Va., Walmart ...
The Associated Press

Walmart shooter left ‘death note,’ bought gun day of killing

According to authorities in Virginia, the Walmart shooter bought his gun just hours prior to killing six employees.
11 days ago
Dry lakebed...
Kira Hoffelmeyer

Lawsuit looms over tiny fish in drought-stricken West

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Conservationists have notified U.S. wildlife officials that they will sue over delayed decisions related to protections for two rare fish species that are threatened by groundwater pumping in the drought-stricken West. The Center for Biological Diversity sent a formal notice of intent to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service last week […]
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Young officer slain in Harlem joined to help ‘chaotic city’