What to Know
- Shootings across New York City left nine people dead and dozens injured in a roughly 15-hour period
- It comes amid a concerning spike in shootings; according to the department, police recorded 63 shooting incidents last week compared with 26 from the same period the year before
- Violence also raged in the form of stabbings and fireworks attacks; NYPD leadership called out city officials on Twitter, demanding action and pleading for help to stop the overwhelming violence
As the boom of fireworks receded from the New York City skies Saturday night, gunfire, stabbings and acts of violence were reported across the boroughs, resulting in the deaths of at least nine people and injuries to more than three dozen others.
The NYPD says at least 42 people were shot since 9 a.m. Sunday and at least nine of those victims died from their injuries. A spokesperson for the department said most of those shootings occurred within a 15-hour period.
In total, from July 3 to July 5, the NYPD recorded a total of 44 shooting incidents with 63 victims. That compares to 16 incidents and 21 victims over the same three days last year.
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The weekend bloodshed doesn't appear to be an anomaly, either; the NYPD says there was significantly more gun violence and homicides in June compared to the same month in 2019. The week of June 29 in 2019, there were 33 shooting victims in the city; in the same week this year, there were 101 — and increase of more than 200 percent.
There were 39 homicides last month, nine more homicides last month than in June 2019. And shootings citywide more than doubled, going from 89 in 2019 to 205 this year, with increases in each one of the city's five boroughs. Likewise, the city saw more than twice as many burglaries this year.
Additionally, the NYPD said that all of the nearly 100 gun violence victims have been from minority communities, as were 97 percent of June's shooting victims.
Despite all that, gun and shooting arrests are down 62 percent over the past week as compared to the same time last year.
But other major crimes -- including rapes, robberies, grand larcenies and hate crimes -- saw double digit percentage decreases last month. Overall arrests were also down by more than 40,000, according to NYPD figures.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, in an impassioned interview on NY1 Monday morning, laid the blame for the increase in violence squarely at the efforts to decrease the population of Rikers -- in part due to COVID-19, but also due to long-term plans to close the jail.
“Look at the Rikers population of the last year … ask a sane person. It’s about half. Where is that other half right now? We’ve transplanted general population to the streets of New York City, and it’s extremely frustrating," Shea said.
Other top police brass have said some officers are stepping back on enforcement given the ongoing protests and the new use-of-force laws that have left officers acting more guarded, and believe that communities need to help set priorities.
While going over June's crime numbers, Chief of Department Terrence Monahan echoed some of Shea's sentiment, but also blamed the rise in crime on myriad reasons including bail reform enacted by the state legislature in January, a reluctance by prosecutors to go after so-called "quality-of-life" offenses, the closure of courts because of the pandemic, the disbandment of an anti-crime unit tasked with getting guns off the street, a so-called "diaphragm law" that bans the use of chokeholds and other restraints where officers put their weight on suspects and the wave of anti-police sentiment and protests he said "absolutely crushed the morale of our cops."
"This not one reason for the violence we've seen," Monahan said. "There are many reasons...I've said this before: The animosity against police out there is trmendous."
NYPD leadership called out city officials on Twitter, demanding action and pleading for help to stop the overwhelming violence.
Assistant Chief Stephen Hughes asked Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance why he hasn't responded to any shootings in the previous 24 hours. Unions representing officers in the department pointed blame toward Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson for creating what the unions called an "unacceptable environment."
(Vance's office, in a statement, said it has been the policy of the DA's office for decades for assistant DA's to attend crime scenes and brief the district attorney as necessary.)
But Mayor Bill de Blasio subtly rejected the notion that it was just the emptying of Rikers to blame.
“It’s not because of one thing, let’s be really clear, there’s not one cause for something like this," the mayor said at a Monday morning news conference, citing a confluence of events like the coronavirus, court closures, simmering tensions after months of confinement, a still-sputtering economy and more. "The court system is not functioning. When our police effectuate an arrest, they don't have the same follow through they're used to seeing from the court system."
A spokesperson for the New York State Courts said that de Blasio pinning some of the blame on courts being closed is "absurd, patently false and ridiculous," and went on to take a direct jab at the mayor.
"The Courts have operated continuously throughout the pandemic, arraigning defendants, holding hundreds of hearings, and conferencing thousands of cases," spokesperson Lucien Chalfen said. "He (de Blasio) should be looking in the mirror, not gazing out a window."
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark and both agreed, saying the courts are not to blame for the surge in shootings.
"It's not going to be resolved simply by prosecuting. We need to work with the communities, they need to feel safe about reporting.. They need to feel safe being witnesses in our cases," Katz said.
"We all know that when something happens on your block, in your building, or in your neighborhood, people know who did it. We need people to let us know who is causing this harm," said Clark. She believes that communities of color need more resources — schools, healthcare, drug treatment, etc. — and that when it comes to gun violence, police and the community together have given up on the progress that had been made.
"Those gun-toters need to beware that we know how to get this work done, and we're not going to stand for them holding our communities hostage," she said.
The mayor said the problem was particularly acute in Harlem and northern Manhattan, and said he would meet with community leaders via video conference Monday to discuss a way forward, which might include changing police deployment strategies.
The spike in violence caught the attention of President Donald Trump, who tweeted: "Shootings up significantly in NYC where people are demanding that @NYGovCuomo& @NYCMayor act now. Federal Government ready, willing and able to help, if asked!"
The majority of the shootings occurred within a 9-hour window between 12 a.m. and 9 a.m. Sunday, Chief Rodney Harrison said in a tweet. Sunday morning, the chief said 37 people were shot in the first nine hours of the day and at least three of those people died.
Reported shootings in the city are up compared to the same period last year. According to the department, police recorded 63 shooting incidents last week, compared to 26 from the year before.
NYPD spokespersons confirmed a large shooting at a party Sunday in Manhattan that injured at least five people, a fatal shooting of a 20-year-old man in Brooklyn, as well as a stabbing in Queens near 52nd Street and Lincoln Avenue. At least one person stabbed was transported to a hospital and one suspect was still outstanding as of Sunday morning, officials said.
The overnight violence extended to the NYPD, which reported at least four officers involved in attacks that left two with minor injuries.
The violence continued on Monday. A 14-year-old was critically injured while standing on a street corner in the St. Albans neighborhood of Queens when two suspects came up to him and shot him in the neck and torso. It was unclear what led up to the shooting.
The night before, police say a 29-year-old man was gunned down in his car with his 4-year-old daughter inside at 221 East 170 St. just before 6 p.m. The man died from his injuries but his daughter was unharmed.
A few miles away from that incident, a 15-year-old boy was shot in the chest -yeaand rushed to the hospital where police say he was being uncooperative with their investigation. Just a few hours later, a shooting involving three men in an argument at 306 East 171 St. left a 22-year-old man and a 23-year-old man dead. Police were interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence but no suspect has been arrested.
In the Bronx, a bullet shot through the front window of a marked patrol vehicle overnight narrowly missed two officers sitting inside, the NYPD said early Sunday. Shards from the window cut one of the officer's face, the department said, but he is expected to be OK.
The incident happened just before midnight in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. The officers were seated inside the vehicle just outside the 40th Precinct.
It was not immediately clear if police were the intended target. The NYPD did not have any suspect description Sunday morning.
An hour earlier, in Brooklyn, two uniformed officers were seated in an unmarked police vehicle when a suspect threw a lit firework through a window, a police spokesperson said. The explosion from the firework left one of the officers with minor burns and lacerations, according to the official.
The firework attack occurred near Gates Avenue and Stuyvesant Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant shortly before 11 p.m., the department said. Police said the suspect fled the scene.
The Bronx shooting on Sunday coincided with the anniversary of the deadly ambush of Detective Miosotis Familia, police said.
The officer was gunned down in the Bronx while sitting in a patrol vehicle on July 5, 2017. The suspect walked up and fired through the vehicle's window. He was later killed by police.
Familia was a 12-year veteran of the force and is survived by her three children.