BREAKING: NYC Church Shooter Identified
The gunman shot dead by cops after opening fire on the steps of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Sunday had a long rap sheet that included an attempted murder bust, according to records and sources.
Luis Vasquez, 52, was arrested on the Upper West Side for attempted murder in 1990, and on an assault charge there a year earlier, sources said Monday.
Vasquez, of the Bronx, was also hit with a drug sale charge in 1989, as well as a marijuana charge in the Bronx in 2012 and a turnstile-jumping offense in 2007.
It was not immediately clear how the cases were adjudicated, and some of the arrests have been sealed, according to the sources.
On Sunday, the caught-on-video shooting at St. John the Divine happened around 3:45 p.m., at the end of a Christmas carol performance outside the historic cathedral.
Vasquez opened fire from the top of the church steps, sending people scrambling for shelter — and shouting “Kill me” and “Shoot me” when cops got to the scene.
He clutched a pistol in each hand.
Two on-duty officers — Detective Jason Harper, a 22-year veteran of the force, and Police Officer Daurys Gutierrez, a nine-year veteran — can be seen in the video taking cover behind a garbage can and can be heard yelling for Vasquez to drop his weapons.
When Vasquez refuses, the officers open fire, striking him in the head.
Sgt. Kensington Cunningham, who has been with the department for 18 years, was at the scene while working as a paid security guard and also fired.
Police said Vasquez had a gasoline can, knives and a Bible in a bag when he opened fire at the church.
Eugene O’Donnell, a former NYPD cop and a professor of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the officers were left with no choice but to open fire.
“The training for New York City cops is, here’s a gun, take cover, and pray you never have to use it,” O’Donnell said. “Just do everything you can to not use that gun.”
“Here, he’s firing at them, endangering civilians, and begging to be killed, which tells you he’s dead-ending,” he said. “He’s telling you, ‘The only way this ends is if I die.’ That’s what he’s telling you. His intentions are crystal clear.”