NEW YORK — The gunman who fatally ambushed two police officers in their squad car had a long criminal record, a hatred for police and the government and an apparent history of mental instability that included an attempt to hang himself a year ago, authorities said Sunday.
Investigators were trying to determine if Brinsley had taken part in any protests over the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, whose names he invoked in his online threat, or simply latched on to the cause for the final act in a violent rampage.
They said he traveled frequently between the South and New York, where he fathered a child in Brooklyn, and had been in the city earlier in the week.
Brinsley, 28, had at least 19 arrests in Georgia and Ohio, spent two years in prison for gun possession and had a troubled childhood so violent that his mother was afraid of him, police said. He ranted online about police and the government and expressed "self-despair and anger at himself and where his life was," Boyce said.
Boyce said Brinsley's mother believed he had undiagnosed mental problems and may have been on medication at some point, but detectives were still trying to determine if he had a mental illness.