NEW YORK (AP) — A search was underway Monday for a gunman who has been stalking homeless males sleeping on the streets of Washington, D.C., and New York Metropolis, fatally capturing two folks and wounding three extra in lower than two weeks.
Police launched surveillance pictures of the suspected gunman late Sunday, together with one by which the hooded man could be seen holding a pistol in a blue glove.
The killer’s motive — if any — was unknown and authorities turned their consideration Monday to attempting to supply what protections they may to homeless individuals who would possibly change into targets.
New York Mayor Eric Adams mentioned law enforcement officials and homeless outreach groups would give attention to discovering unhoused folks within the subways and different places and would urge them to hunt refuge at city-owned shelters.
“The case is a transparent and horrific intentional act of taking the life of somebody, it seems, as a result of he was homeless,” Adams mentioned at a information convention late Sunday. “Two people had been shot whereas sleeping on the streets, not committing against the law however sleeping on the streets.”
The most recent violence underscored the urgency to get the homeless off the streets and into protected housing, mentioned Jacquelyn Simone, the coverage director for the Coalition for the Homeless in New York Metropolis.
“The rationale that these folks had been attacked is as a result of they didn’t have that security of everlasting housing,” she mentioned. “And that’s why we actually want to make use of these tragedies as a chance to redouble our efforts to make sure that folks have a greater possibility than the streets the place they’re uncovered to each the weather in addition to individuals who would possibly want to do them hurt.”
Simone and different advocates for the homeless known as on town to make use of vacant lodge rooms for non permanent shelter for many who would reasonably keep on the streets reasonably than decide in dormitory-style housing.
The earliest recognized capturing occurred at round 4 a.m. on March 3 in Washington D.C., police mentioned, when a person was shot and wounded within the metropolis’s Northeast part. A second man was wounded on March 8, simply earlier than 1:30 a.m.
At 3 a.m. the subsequent day, March 9, police and firefighters discovered a useless man inside a burning tent. A subsequent post-mortem revealed that the person had died of a number of stab and gunshot wounds.
The killer then apparently traveled north to New York Metropolis, police mentioned.
At 4:30 a.m. Saturday, a 38-year-old man sleeping on the road in Manhattan not removed from the doorway to the Holland Tunnel was shot in his proper arm as he slept.
The sufferer screamed and the gunman fled, police mentioned.
About 90 minutes later, the gunman fatally shot one other man on Lafayette Road in SoHo, police mentioned. The person’s physique was present in his sleeping bag simply earlier than 5 p.m. Saturday.
Police decided the identical individual dedicated the assaults based mostly on the similarities of every capturing and proof recovered from the scenes. The victims had been attacked with out provocation, police mentioned.
“We’re dedicated to sharing each investigative path, clue and piece of proof with our regulation enforcement companions to convey this investigation to a swift conclusion and the person behind these vicious crimes to justice,” Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee mentioned in a information launch.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is aiding within the investigation.
The assaults had been paying homage to the beating deaths of 4 homeless males as they slept on the streets in New York’s Chinatown within the fall of 2019. One other homeless man, Randy Santos, has pleaded not responsible to homicide costs in these assaults.
A yr in the past, 4 folks had been stabbed in New York Metropolis, two fatally, by a person who randomly attacked homeless folks within the subway system. That assailant, who was additionally homeless, is awaiting trial.
New York Metropolis’s mayor has come beneath fireplace for his plan to take away homeless folks from town’s subway system by deploying police and psychological well being staff to maintain folks from sleeping on trains and subway stations.
Advocates mentioned the coverage was misguided and unfairly criminalized folks down on their luck or who weren’t getting the assistance they wanted to steer them again into everlasting housing.
Adams has mentioned homelessness was a sophisticated concern, exacerbated by the pandemic, the financial downturn and psychological well being challenges.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has mentioned the state was working to get extra psychiatric beds at hospitals accessible by rising the sum of money hospitals obtain for having the beds.
Ashraf Khalil reported from Washington, D.C.
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