Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020

6 Are Shot in Brooklyn as N.Y.C.’s Summer of Violence Spills Into Fall

A white passenger car slowed down on a residential street in Brooklyn. One man fired his gun from the driver’s side, and a second man fired a gun through the car’s open sunroof. Bullets splintered into the air, striking six people on Wednesday night, the police said.

A 23-year-old man collapsed on the street after two bullets struck him in the chest. He later died a nearby hospital, the police said. The five other victims, who were shot in their legs and back, were expected to survive. The police did not disclose a motive on Thursday.

The incident occurred on a violent night when two other people were shot in other parts of the city and recalled the mass shootings of a bygone era when drive-by violence was much more common in New York.

Gun violence that had plagued the city for most of the summer has continued into the fall, a troubling trend that has some city leaders questioning whether the police have backed off enforcement to the detriment of public safety. More than 1,515 people have been shot so far this year, twice as many as all of 2019, and there have been 362 homicides, a 32 percent increase over last year.

Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough president who is running for mayor next year, said that even though he’s hearing fewer complaints of a police slowdown recently in his district, he wants to see the department devote more resources to gun violence reduction programs.

“We need to treat this with the level of urgency that it deserves,” said Mr. Adams, a former police officer. “The use of guns are wrecking havoc and we must keep up with them. I’m not seeing a level of urgency.”

Police officials said the department has had trouble stopping gang feuds that are fueling much of the violence partly because budget cuts have strained resources. The department has contended with a number of setbacks, officials said, including the suspension of three police academy classes; a reduction of at least 2,500 police officers through attrition; and a budgeted cut of nearly 60 percent in overtime for uniformed police officers.

Despite the budgeted overtime cut, preliminary figures from the Independent Budget Office indicate that the department is on track to exceed its overtime budget by $116 million during this fiscal year.

Gun arrests have only recently begun to climb after dropping steeply earlier this summer. A confidential analysis of crime data obtained by The New York Times this summer showed that gun arrests had plummeted, even as the police commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, attributed the increase in violence to the pandemic, protests against police brutality and a new bail law that released inmates from city jails.

Police brass continue to strongly push back and point to the recent increase in the number of arrests for illegal guns. Last month police made 607 such arrests, a 98 percent increase when compared to a year ago, the police said.

In a statement, Mr. Shea said the department will continue to work with community leaders to curb the violence that shows no signs of abating.

“Despite the unparalleled challenges they face every day, our officers continue to engage with the community and zero in on the drivers of crime,” Mr. Shea said. “I thank the men and women of the N.Y.P.D. who work relentlessly, day in and day out, to keep New Yorkers in every neighborhood safe. We will continue to address crime upticks and work in close partnership with the residents we are sworn to serve.”

More than half of shootings in any given year involve rival gang members fighting over turf, romantic triangles and music, investigators said, and gang-related shootings often lead to an endless cycle of retaliations, they said.

In recent months, some victims have been bystanders, not targets.

In early October, Bertha Arriaga, a mother of three, died after a stray bullet pierced her apartment window in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens. She was struck in the neck.

City leaders and residents were outraged in August when Davell Gardner Jr., a 22-month-old, was fatally shot in his stroller in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The violence continued in a spate of shootings across the city on Wednesday night, including the incident that killed Theodore Senior, the 23-year-old man who was shot on the street in Brooklyn, a law enforcement official said. Two other men also died, one in Brooklyn and one in the Bronx.

Kevin Holloman, 28, was shot at around 9:30 p.m. as he walked along Herkimer Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where two men in their 20s had died in a shooting a week earlier, police said. The gunman fled on foot.

The gun violence spread to the Bronx later that night, where police found a 23-year-old man, later identified as Aaron Santiago, dead with a gunshot to the head at 11:40 p.m. on Anderson Avenue.

A motive was not disclosed by the police in either shooting, and investigators were looking for suspects.

Earlier this week, detectives arrested a man wanted in connection with another shooting that left Wendolin Ortiz, a 19-year-old woman, dead and two men injured. The police said more than 20 people were inside Mixtec Restaurant on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, which also serves as a social club, when the shooting occurred at around 7 a.m. Monday. The police arrested Domingo Berroa, 32, a day later before he boarded a flight to the Dominican Republic from Kennedy International Airport. He was charged with the killing of Ms. Ortiz, the police said.

Back in Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon, two uniformed officers stood watch where the young people had been shot. Weary area residents walked by orange evidence markers visible on the curb. They said they had seen more police officers in the neighborhood, but that it was not enough to curb the violence there.

“The police presence there hasn’t stopped people from gathering in large numbers at all hours of the night, sitting around drinking, whatever,” said Marcellus Jeudine, a hospital worker who grew up in the area.

Benoit Flambert, who lives on Hawthorne Street, said he did not know what had happened until Thursday morning.

“The police came to my house and told me my car was riddled with bullets,” Mr. Flambert, 44, said.

Police were looking at his SUV for evidence. Mr. Flambert looked, too.

He counted at least four bullet holes in the driver side front door and the trunk.

Troy Closson contributed reporting.

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