NEW YORK (AP) — A man wielding a machete attacked three police officers at the New Year’s Eve celebration in New York City, authorities said, striking two of them in the head before an officer shot the man in the shoulder.
The attack happened a little after 10 p.m. about eight blocks from Times Square, just outside of the high-security zone where revellers are screened for weapons.
The two officers were hospitalized, one with a fractured skull and the other with a bad cut, and were expected to recover.
Police did not identify the 19-year-old suspect, who also was expected to recover.
The attack and sound of a gunshot briefly sent some people in the crowd running, but the incident did not impact 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.”
An investigation was underway to pinpoint a motive for the attack, but authorities said they didn’t believe there was any ongoing threat to the public.
Michael Driscoll, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said the agency believes the attacker acted alone.
The NYPD mounts a massive security operation every year to keep the New Year’s Eve crowd safe. Thousands of officers are sent to the area, including many new recruits.
One of the injured officers just graduated from the police academy on Friday, the mayor said.
The blocks where the biggest crowds gather to see performances and the midnight ball drop can be accessed only 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.
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.