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CBS2 Exclusive: Officer Attacked With Hatchet Released From Hospital

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- There was applause all around on Wednesday, as an NYPD officer made his way out of the hospital six days after being attacked with a hatchet.

As CBS2's Dana Tyler reported, only CBS2 was there as a sea of blue greeted Officer Kenneth Healey as he was wheeled out of Jamaica Hospital Medical Center Wednesday afternoon.

With his head and his right hand bandaged, Healey was visibly moved by the applause and cheers as he left the hospital. He was moved to a rehabilitation center for further treatment.

Around 2 p.m. this past Thursday, Healey was with other officers on Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica, Queens on foot patrol. Without a word, Zale Thompson, 32, came at the officers with a hatchet, police said.

Healey suffered a serious head injury and another officer was slashed in the arm by a hatchet-wielding man before Thompson was shot and killed by other officers.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the incident took all of seven seconds.

"Nothing was said at the time of the assault. The suspect was described as having charged at the officers," Bratton said Thursday.

A bloody hatchet, about 18 inches in length, was recovered from the scene.

Initially, investigators said the attack was not linked to terrorism. But on Friday, Bratton said Friday at a news conference that he was comfortable calling the incident a terrorist attack.

Thompson's activity on social media indicated he was a convert to Islam and included rants about injustices in American society and oppression abroad but offered no clear evidence of any affiliation with terror groups, police said.

Sources told CBS2's Matt Kozar that Thompson had been visiting websites affiliated with Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Al-Shabaab.

A Facebook page linked to Thompson includes a picture of an Islamic warrior and a quote from the Koran.

On YouTube, Thompson appears to have posted a comment advocating "holy war," saying "If you're looking for 'perfect' Muslims who never make any mistakes in their jihad, then you will be looking in vain," CBS2's Tony Aiello reported.

Thompson was also online "looking at different acts of violence including beheadings," Miller said.

Authorities also seized a hunting knife as well as another "weaponized ax" from Thompson's residence after obtaining a search warrant.

CBS2 has learned Thompson graduated from the College of New Rochelle in 2008 and worked in information services at the college until 2012.

Earlier in his life, he was discharged from the Navy for misconduct, reportedly due to drug use, and has a criminal record in California in 2003 and 2004 for domestic assault.

Authorities said Thompson had no prior arrests in New York and his only contact with the NYPD appears to be when he was the victim of assault as a teenager in 1996.

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