An indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Dzenan Camovic with robbery and firearms offenses for his June 3, 2020, knife and firearm attack on multiple New York City Police Department (NYPD) police officers in Brooklyn. As set forth in the court filings, the defendant, a Bosnian national in the United States illegally, was motivated to attack the officers because of his interest in and support for violent Islamist extremism. The defendant is currently in state custody and is scheduled to be arraigned at a later date.
The indictment charges Camovic with Hobbs Act robbery, using and discharging a firearm during that robbery, theft of a firearm that moved in interstate commerce and unlawful possession of a firearm as an illegal alien.
William P. Barr, Attorney General; Seth D. DuCharme, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Christopher A. Wray, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, FBI, New York Field Office, and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.
“Dzenan Camovic, an illegal alien and Bosnian national, is alleged to have used the cover of chaos during recent civil unrest in New York City to launch a premeditated and cowardly ambush against two New York City Police officers, brutally slashing one with a knife, stealing his weapon and opening fire, and injuring several responding officers,” said William P. Barr, U.S. Attorney General. “We know that Camovic repeatedly yelled, ‘Allahu Akbar’ during his attack. We know that he possessed a significant volume of materials that demonstrates his interest in and support for violent Islamist extremism, including materials related to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). But the defendant’s access to the dark web and his use of encrypted communication platforms have created evidentiary roadblocks to fully learning his plans and potential co-conspirators. This is the second violent Islamist extremist attack on our land in the last nine months where the attacker used encrypted technology that can help cover his tracks and mask his communications. If not for the heroism and bravery of the responding NYPD officers who returned fire and took the assailant down early in the attack, untold additional officers and innocents could have been killed or injured.”
“As we have alleged in the indictment and set forth in related filings, just before midnight on June 3, 2020, the defendant launched a surprise attack on police officers standing post on the streets of Brooklyn, nearly ending their lives. After stabbing a police officer in the neck, the defendant ripped a 9mm service pistol away from an officer and shot at the officers while perversely invoking religion,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme. “Despite engaging in technical tradecraft that covered some of his tracks, this defendant cannot escape the reach of the investigators and prosecutors who are committed to making sure that he faces justice for his extremely serious crimes.” Mr. DuCharme expressed his grateful appreciation to the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force as well as the Kings County District Attorney’s Office for their outstanding work.
“Two New York City police officers, who swore an oath to protect and serve, were heinously ambushed in the line of duty at the hands of Dzenan Camovic as alleged in today’s indictment,” stated FBI Director Wray. “As fellow Americans were exercising their rights to demonstrate, these brave law enforcement officers were brutally attacked to further a violent agenda associated with ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This case demonstrates that the FBI remains steadfast in our fight to protect the U.S. from extremists who wish to harm our citizens and fellow law enforcement officers.”
“Several days into protests that erupted in New York City and throughout the country, we allege Dzenan Camovic, motivated by ISIS-inspired ideology, ambushed three NYPD officers on the streets of Brooklyn and caused serious injury to those officers. As he commenced his attack, the NYPD officers were doing what the citizens of our city ask them to do every day – to stand watch and protect their fellow New Yorkers. Mr. Camovic’s alleged behavior has no place in our community. His assault on the officers was an attack against the entire New York City community. Our society has never tolerated this type of behavior, and today’s federal charges will ensure Mr. Camovic isn’t a threat to society again,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
“Dzenan Camovic, as outlined in the indictment, was a consumer of terrorist propaganda and calls for violence by groups like al-Qaida and ISIS. His premeditated ambush of two New York City police officers can never be accepted. As the investigation continues into his motives, these significant federal charges reinforce the notion that an attack against police officers is an attack against society,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.
On the evening of June 3, 2020, in the midst of a public health emergency and while New York City was under a nightly curfew order, the defendant allegedly carried out his attack on NYPD police officers who were assigned to an anti-looting post near the intersection of Flatbush and Church Avenues in Brooklyn, New York. At approximately 11:30 p.m., Camovic walked past two uniformed police officers on foot patrol and appeared to crouch for several minutes watching them. Security footage shows that Camovic then moved around the block in an apparent effort to approach the two police officers from behind.
At approximately 11:50 p.m., Camovic rounded the corner from Flatbush Avenue onto Church Avenue and stabbed one of the officers (Officer 1) in the neck with a knife. After stabbing the first officer (Officer 1), Camovic chased the second officer (Officer 2), lunging at him and attempting to stab him. Camovic then ran back to Officer 1, attacked him, forcibly took control of Officer 1’s firearm and fired multiple shots at Officer 2 and other officers who had responded to the scene. Responding officers ultimately shot Camovic and took him into custody. Several officers were wounded during Camovic’s attack and robbery, including Officer 2 who was shot in the hand.
During his attack on the police officers, Camovic repeatedly shouted “Allahu Akbar,” a common Arabic phrase meaning “God is the greatest,” that has been used by perpetrators of violent jihadist terror attacks during the commission of violent attacks. The government’s investigation has revealed that, prior to the attack, Camovic possessed a significant volume of radical jihadist propaganda.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
If convicted, Camovic faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Craig R. Heeren, Artie McConnell and Josh Hafetz are in charge of the prosecution.