Officer critical but stable after hatchet attack

In this frame grab taken from video provided by the New York Police Department, an unidentified man approaches New York City police officers with a hatchet, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, in the Queens borough of New York. The man injured two with the hatchet before the other officers shot and killed him, police said. A bystander was wounded in the gunfire. Investigators were still trying to confirm the identity of the assailant and determine a motive. (AP Photo/New York Police Department)
In this frame grab taken from video provided by the New York Police Department, an unidentified man approaches New York City police officers with a hatchet, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, in the Queens borough of New York. The man injured two with the hatchet before the other officers shot and killed him, police said. A bystander was wounded in the gunfire. Investigators were still trying to confirm the identity of the assailant and determine a motive. (AP Photo/New York Police Department)

NEW YORK (AP) — A New York City police officer who suffered a serious head wound after being attacked by a hatchet-wielding man remains in critical but stable condition, police said Friday.

Police say another officer who was hit in the back of the head in the Thursday attack is in stable condition on Friday.

The attacker was shot and killed by police.

Security videotape and witness accounts appeared to leave no doubt that the man purposely targeted four rookie New York Police Department officers, police said. Moments before the attack, he was seen on a street corner crouching down to pull the hatchet out of backpack before he charged the officers and began swinging the hatchet with a two-handed grip, police said.

Asked if the attack could be related to terrorism, Police Commissioner William Bratton didn’t rule it out. He cited the fatal shooting of a soldier in Canada earlier this week — what officials there have called a terror attack — as reason for concern.

“This early on, we really cannot say yes or no to that question,” Bratton said Thursday.

The attack occurred at about 2 p.m. while the officers were standing together on foot patrol, police said. Without a word, the man swung at an officer who blocked the blow with his arm. Another officer was hit in the back of the head and fell to the ground.

As the man raised the hatchet again, the two uninjured officers drew their weapons and fired several rounds, police said. The bullets killed the assailant and wounded a female bystander, police said.

___

Associated Press writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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