STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A man believed to be behind a string of disturbing serial shootings and homicides of homeless people in New York City and Washington, D.C., has sparked an intense search as authorities seek the public’s help in locating the prime suspect.
A total of five shootings across 10 days, including two homicides, were believed to be committed across both cities by the same man, said officials in both cities at a joint press conference Monday evening.
New images of the individual sought by authorities were released by police that offer the clearest picture of the man to date. A combined $70,000 reward is available between the NYPD, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
“We know that this is a scary situation,” said Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “We know that our unsheltered residents already face a lot of daily dangers, and it is unconscionable that anybody would target this vulnerable population.”
Bowser, Mayor Eric Adams, NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell, MPD Chief Robert Contee and other law enforcement officials called on the public to help identify and locate the man, who was connected to the five incidents through forensic evidence.
Officials said the man has demonstrated the ability to move between cities, though police are not currently seeking a specific vehicle in connection to the crimes.
One gun has been used across all five shootings, said Contee, and both the NYPD and MPD are in contact with law enforcement agencies up and down the East Coast to ascertain if any other cases are connected to the spree.
“We don’t want to lose another resident in this city, in New York or anywhere else,” said Adams during the press conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday. “He must be brought to justice. We will bring him to justice.”
Authorities said the shootings were pre-meditated and were carried out by a “depraved” individual targeting homeless people.
The harrowing spate of incidents has spurred concern among local officials who work with Staten Island’s homeless population.
The Rev. Terry Troia, president and CEO of Project Hospitality, said the recent spate of incidents has prompted outreach in the past 24 hours that encouraged people experiencing homelessness to be vigilant and sleep in groups.
“It’s just been so distressing,” said Troia during a phone interview with the Advance/SILive.com. “Homeless people are extremely vulnerable when they sleep in the streets.”
She noted that homelessness on Staten Island is more “hidden” due to the borough’s vast park space and could leave individuals at greater risk.
“It’s a serious concern,” she said, adding that the shocking events underscore the need for the planned homeless shelters in the borough. “Everybody deserves a safe place to lay their head for the night.”
The two most recent incidents, which took place on Saturday at separate New York City locations, left one man dead and another injured.
The first known incident took place on March 3, 2022 at around 5 a.m. in Washington D.C., the police statement said. A male victim was found suffering from apparent gunshot wounds and was transported to a local hospital for treatment.
Five days later, at around 1:21 a.m. on March 8, MPD officers responded to a report of a shooting and found an adult man with gunshot wounds who was then transported to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
The following morning, at around 2:54 a.m., MPD officers found a tent fire that was put out by the DC fire department and EMS. A man was later found at the scene and pronounced dead. A medical examiner’s autopsy found the man’s cause of death was multiple stab and gunshot wounds. That case was ruled a homicide.
At around 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, a 38-year-old man was shot in the arm while sleeping on King Street, near Varick Street, said police.
A different 38-year-old man was found with apparent gunshot wounds to the head and neck on King Street, near Varick Street, at around 5 p.m. on Saturday, the NYPD said. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to authorities, who noted that witnesses in the area reported hearing gunshots at around 6 a.m.
Because of the connection in the modus operandi of the acts and other evidence, the NYPD, MPD and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will jointly investigate the incidents.
Directing his message towards the attacker, Contee said: “Turn yourself in. We’re coming for you — that’s the bottom line. Our reach is far and wide, and we’re coming for you.”
Anyone who can identify this individual or who has knowledge of these incidents should call police in Washington, D.C., at 202-727-9099 or text your tip to MPD’s anonymous text tip line at 50411.
The MPD is currently offering a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for this offense. The ATF Washington Field Division is offering an additional $20,000. The NYPD is also offering a $25,000 reward.
Anyone who can identify this individual or who has knowledge of these incidents should call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM, or on Twitter @NYPDTips.
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