- Associated Press - Friday, December 26, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - A man overheard at a bank threatening to kill a police officer was a step away from making good on his threat, a prosecutor said, and he was held on $500,000 bail after police said they recovered weapons and bulletproof vests at his home.

Elvin Payamps was arrested Wednesday after police responded to a call from a Queens bank customer who became alarmed as he listened to Payamps talking on his cellphone, a criminal complaint said. The customer, according to the complaint, heard Payamps say: “I’m going to kill another cop. We should do it before Christmas. The cop should have been white that was killed. I always have a gun on me.”

Just days earlier, an Asian officer and a Hispanic officer were shot to death while they sat in their patrol car in Brooklyn. The shooter, a black man, had made threatening posts online, including references to high-profile cases of white police officers killing unarmed black men.

Payamps, who’s Hispanic, was captured Wednesday afternoon in his BMW with a bag of marijuana, police said in the complaint. A search of his home turned up a semi-automatic pistol loaded with eight bullets, a 12-gauge shotgun with a defaced serial number, brass knuckles and two bulletproof vests, police said.

The complaint said Payamps referenced the daylight killings of the Asian and Hispanic New York Police Department officers last weekend when he admitted that he said two white officers should have been killed instead.

At an initial court appearance for Payamps on Thursday, prosecutor Talia Seidel argued for $1 million bail, the Daily News reported.

“He was one step away from making good on his word,” she said.

The newspaper reported that Payamps’ court-appointed lawyer, Carol Siegel, argued that it could be a misunderstanding.

“When people overhear things, sometimes they don’t hear it right,” she said.

The arrest gave Mayor Bill de Blasio a fresh chance to stand behind the police officers who criticized him after the killings last Saturday of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. Officers and union leaders turned their backs to the mayor at the hospital where Liu and Ramos were taken, saying he had enabled protesters alleging police brutality to create a climate of mistrust that allowed the tragedy to happen and had blood on his hands.

After Payamps was arrested, the mayor tweeted: “Thank you to the NYPD officers who today arrested a man who threatened to kill cops, and to the good samaritan who provided key information.”

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