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N.Y. City Council member killed


jbooma

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http://www.msnbc.com/news/943119.asp?0cv=CA01

A man pulled a gun and began firing Wednesday from a balcony in the City Council chambers of New York City Hall, killing a council member before being fatally shot by a plainclothes officer, police said.

CITY OFFICIALS told NBC News that the council member, James E. Davis, 41, of Brooklyn, died of his wounds at New York University Downtown hospital.

James Davis, a former New York police officer, represented Brooklyn on the City Council.

NBC affiliate WNBC-TV of New York, citing police sources, said a plainclothes officer shot the gunman on the balcony. He died later at the same hospital.

The gunman was sitting in the balcony near Davis when he suddenly opened fire, striking the council member, police sources told The Associated Press. The security officer, who was on the floor of the chamber, shot up at the gunman, striking him five times, the sources said.

The gunman, who was not immediately identified, was described as a political opponent of Davis’ and was able to walk into the building unchecked because of their ties, the station said, quoting witnesses.

A third man was wounded in the shootout, WNBC reported.

Davis, who had specialized in criminal justice issues since joining the council in 2001, founded Love Yourself Stop the Violence, a non-profit foundation dedicated to stopping urban violence, in 1991.

He was a former New York City police officer and an instructor at the police academy. His official council biography said he was a minister, but it did not say whether he had been formally ordained or in what denomination.

Although police said the gunman was dead, subway stations around City Hall were still closed, as were the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Police were said to be seeking a slim, well-dressed man in a blue suit or blazer.

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NO TERRORISM ANGLE

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was in his office at the time of the shootings, stressed that the incident was not related to terrorism.

“This is an attack on democracy,” Bloomberg said. “We will not stop until we find who did this. It is not terrorism. It appears to be a random act, but we cannot allow this to go on, ever.”

The City Council had just begun its meeting shortly after 2 p.m., and 100 to 200 people were in the chamber, when seven or eight shots were fired from the balcony, witnesses said. Reporters in the press room dived beneath their desks.

Witnesses said that a security guard returned fire and that about a dozen shots in all were fired. City Council member Peter Vallone told MSNBC television that the gunman targeted a specific victim, firing several shots at him. He continued firing into the person’s body on the ground.

Top ‘GENERAL PANDEMONIUM’

There was “general pandemonium” in the chamber as members dived for cover, City Council member Lew Fidler told WNBC. Officers hustled the council members out of the building.

“I thought balloons were being popped until I saw the officers lift their guns and shoot back at the balcony,” City Council member John Liu told the New York newspaper Newsday. “It happened quickly, and people were hurt even coming out of the chambers.”

Fidler and others questioned how a gunman could have gotten past the building’s metal detectors with a firearm, but staffers in the building told reporters that many people were often allowed into the building unchecked.

“Security is a joke,” an aide to a City Council member, who asked not to be identified, told Newsday. “It’s a well-known fact among City Council workers.

“I’d hate to say it, but it wouldn’t be the hardest thing to get a gun in there. ... Frankly, they put one cop at each metal detector and they have a lot of people going through, and it wouldn’t be very hard for somebody to just walk by it.”

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This may deserve its own thread, but do you agree with Bloomberg, that this "is not terrorism?" I don't. Aside from murder, that's exactly what this is.

Now, if the point he's making is that it's not (apparently) international terrorism, then I'm with him.

But this alteration of the word has gotten to the point where the word "terrorism" is meaningless.

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