NYC, DC Homeless Killings: Chilling Video Shows Gunman Shoot Sleeping Victim – NBC New York

2022-05-14 22:36:23 By : Ms. Enya Zhang

New and chilling video shows a man believed to be responsible for at least two attacks on Manhattan homeless people and three others in Washington, D.C., stalking his victim before opening fire on the sleeping and defenseless target.

The video, exclusively obtained by NBC New York, shows the suspect walk up to where the 38-year-old victim was asleep on a sidewalk in SoHo, near construction scaffolding. The shooter then appears to aim and fire on the sleeping man, who was roused from his sleep by the gunfire. The gunman then can bee seen running off.

Neighbors on King Street identified the man who survived the heartless shooting. He was seen on Monday with a bandage on his right arm, returning to the scene of the gunshots to collect his belongings.

Earlier on Monday, police in the two cities released multiple surveillance photographs, including a close-up snapshot clearly showing the man's face, and urged people who might know him to come forward.

“Our reach is far and wide, and we’re coming for you,” Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert J. Contee said at a news conference in Washington, speaking directly to the gunman.

Investigators acknowledged, though, that they still knew little about the suspected killer or his motive.

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, speaking together at the news conference, urged anyone living on the streets to go to city shelters where they might be safer.

“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 said.

Adams said New York City police and homeless outreach teams would focus on finding unhoused people in the subways and other locations to urge them to seek refuge at city-owned shelters.

"From the moment we learned the two shootings were linked, we launched a citywide effort to reach out to the homeless population and urge them with three goals: To seek shelter, to ask them if they had encountered this subject from the pictures we showed them, and to ensure there were no undiscovered victims," NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said Monday.

Investigators in the two cities began to suspect a link between the shootings on Sunday after a Metropolitan Police Department homicide captain — a former resident of New York City — saw surveillance photos that had been released Saturday night by the NYPD while scrolling through social media.

The man in those photos looked similar to the one being sought by his own department.

D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee credited the quick coordination between departments, saying that without that officer making the connection, “It could have been months,” before the link between the attacks was discovered.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS. A reward for information in the shooting has increased to $70,000 between different law enforcement: $25,000 each from NYC and D.C., and $20,000 from ATF.

The earliest known shooting happened at around 4 a.m. on March 3 in Washington D.C., police said, when a man was shot and wounded in the city's Northeast section. A second man was wounded on March 8, just before 1:30 a.m.

At 3 a.m. the next day, March 9, police and firefighters found a dead man inside a burning tent. He was initially thought to have suffered fatal burns, but a subsequent autopsy revealed that the man had died of multiple stab and gunshot wounds.

The killer then traveled north to New York City, police said. At 4:30 a.m. Saturday, the sleeping man was shot, and about 90 minutes later, the gunman fatally shot another man on Lafayette Street in SoHo, police said. The man’s body was found in his sleeping bag just before 5 p.m. Saturday.

“He looked around. He made sure no one was there. And he intentionally took the life of an innocent person,” Adams said.

The NYPD, D.C. Metropolitan Police and agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are all assisting in the investigation, officials said. D.C. police confirmed there were ballistic links between the shootings, and said that all five of the shootings were linked back to the same gun.

We need everyone to take a moment to watch the below video. This suspect is wanted in connection to 2 homicides and at least 3 additional shootings of homeless men in DC & NYC. Community tips help solve cases. Call (202) 727-9099/text 50411 with info. @NYPDnews @ATFWashington

New York City police said that the gunman shot the victims without saying a word or having any interaction with them, and D.C. police said they believe the three shootings were "very much consistent" with what was seen in NYC.

In all five incidents between the two cities, all five victims were men experiencing homelessness who were sleeping outside, and in most instances were alone. The D.C. police commissioner said that they are confident that the five shootings are the only victims, but said it is possible there are more out there.

🚨WANTED for SHOOTING: Today, between 4:36 am & 6:00 am, in the confines of the @NYPD1pct and @NYPD5pct, the suspect approached two homeless individuals on the street and shot both of them, killing one individual. NYPD executives will provide an update live at 9:30 PM

On top of tracking surveillance video, law enforcement authorities are also asking agencies along the East Coast to see if they have any similar unsolved cases, two senior law enforcement officials said Monday.

"Homelessness should not be a homicide. This was a cold-blooded attack ," Adams said at the Monday evening press conference from D.C. "When you look at the pre-meditative action of the shooter, it sends a clear and loud message that we need the help from the public...Someone knows this person. We are asking for the public to find him."

On Monday, a new image of the alleged gunman was released, but authorities did not provide any other information regarding where the image came from, other than it was recent. Officials said they are not sure where the suspect may live, and D.C. police said they were not aware or searching for a particular vehicle that the suspect may have used.

UPDATE: The below individual is being sought in connection to the fatal shootings of two homeless males in NYC and Washington DC. If you have ANY information on this individual, contact @NYPDTips at 800-577-TIPS. There is a reward of up to $70,000.

“Any one of us who’s homeless could have went to that same situation,” said Kess Abraham, who fell into homelessness last month.

After finding refuge in parks and other places across Brooklyn and Manhattan, Abraham tried to find help at the Bowery Mission, which houses hundreds of homeless people in its facilities across the city. He said he was “pained” to learn of “a guy who lived on the streets who probably was minding his own business getting murdered for no reason.”

Joel Castillo, a 24-year-old experiencing a first brush with homelessness who was also at the mission's downtown facility, said more should be done to keep the city's residents safe — homeless or otherwise.

“I don’t know if it’s a police problem, but given the circumstances, the police should actually kind of step up and do a little bit more. I’m not saying that they don’t already do enough,” he said, “but what I am saying is that there should be a lot more measures taken to ensure that the city’s taxpayers are kept safe.”

James Winans, the mission’s chief executive officer, said it was “very sobering” that one of the killings happened just blocks away from the organization's emergency shelter.

The latest attacks were reminiscent of the beating deaths of four homeless men as they slept on the streets in New York's Chinatown in the fall of 2019. Another homeless man, Randy Santos, has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in those attacks.

A year ago, four people were stabbed in New York City, two fatally, by a man who randomly attacked homeless people in the subway system. That assailant, who was also homeless, is awaiting trial.

New York City's mayor has been criticized by some anti-poverty advocates for his plan to remove homeless people from the city's subway system by deploying police and mental health workers to keep people from sleeping in trains or stations.

Adams, on Monday, defended his policy, saying it was designed to protect the safety of both commuters and homeless residents.

“There is nothing dignified about allowing people to sleep on subway platforms,” he said.

Adams said Monday that teams will still be deployed to remove individuals from sleeping in the subway system, and said that the city is required by law to house any individual that seeks shelter.

The violence underscored the urgency to get the homeless off the streets and into safe housing, said Jacquelyn Simone, policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless in New York City.

“The reason that these people were attacked is because they didn’t have that safety of permanent housing," she said. “And that’s why we really need to use these tragedies as an opportunity to redouble our efforts to ensure that people have a better option than the streets where they’re exposed to both the elements as well as people who might wish to do them harm.”

In a joint statement released late Sunday night, Adams and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said that they are "heartbroken and disturbed by these heinous crimes ... targeting some of our most vulnerable residents," and that the two cities are working together to catch the killer while also imploring those who are on the street to find a shelter to stay in.

"The work to get this individual off our streets before he hurts or murders another individual is urgent. The rise in gun violence has shaken all of us and it is particularly horrible to know that someone is out there deliberately doing harm to an already vulnerable population," the statement read. "We are also calling on unsheltered residents to seek shelter. Again, it is heartbreaking and tragic to know that in addition to all the dangers that unsheltered residents face, we now have a cold-blooded killer on the loose, but we are certain that we will get the suspect off the street and into police custody.”