While crime in general went down in New York City, murders, robberies and assaults including gun related violence rose for the first time in years in 2019.
Some things were down for the year, including burglaries, car thefts and larcenies. Fires and fire deaths were down for the year, though there were some notable incidents throughout the city – those fires sparking legislation to install sprinklers in all residential buildings.
And construction related incidents were down as companies take better precautions to safeguard workers and work sites as liability becomes more of an issue – though several workers were killed during the year. One woman was killed however, when concrete collapsed from a cracked facade in midtown.
In addition, there was a marked increase in anti-Semitic attacks, most of them constituting harassment rather than actual physical harm, but alarming none-the-less. There was an 80 percent increase in these attacks and arrests were made. These attacks became more in focus when an anti Jewish attack in Jersey City resulted in six deaths, including two residents of Brooklyn and a police officer.
More alarming was 10 police officers taking their lives in suicides during the year including a high-ranking commander and a respected veteran detective, sparking an unprecedented mental health initiative by the NYPD and the city to reach out to officers suffering from depression.
This year, two police officers were killed and another wounded in friendly fire, moving the department to work towards changing training for officers in the field to prevent such incidents.
Here’s a review of the year’s notable incidents.
Firefighter Steven Pollard was killed when he fell through the gap in the newly constructed Mill Basin Bridge while helping motorists involved in a collision.
In transit, a 22-yr-old Malaysia Goodson died when she fell down stairs of the midtown Seventh Avenue train station with her one year old daughter, sparking outrage over accessibility.
Transit police were looking for two suspects in fatal shooting on a Queens elevated train platform at 90th street and Elmhurst Avenue on Feb. 4.
Detective Brian Simonsen, 42, of the 102nd Precinct was killed by friendly fire as he and his sergeant wounded when they became involved in a shoot-out with a hold up suspect in a T-Mobile in Richmond Hill, Queens. Simonsen was a well-respect 19-year veteran of the department. Christopher Ransom, 27. is facing murder charges.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner James O’Neill roll out a five-point plan to bring the surging homicide totals to a halt.
On March 12, a jury was picked for the retrial of Chanel Lewis, who he is accused of killing Howard Beach, Queens jogger Karina Vetrano two years earlier. The first trial ended in a hung jury. The second ended with his conviction.
A reputed Gambino crime boss Francesco “Frank” Cali was shot to death in the driveway of his home in Staten Island on March 15. The assailant apparently staged a car accident to lure him out for the kill. It turns out Anthony Comello had a completely different reason for shooting Cali, believing him to be part of a secretive “deep state conspiracy.”
A massive six-alarm fire ripped through a Sunset Park apartment building on April 3, leaving hundreds homeless. Several people were injured, none seriously, but hundreds were left homeless.
A funeral for Grand Rebbe Yisrole Avrohom Portugal in Borough Park that attracted tens of thousands of mourners, resulted in several cop injuries, including one officer struck by the vehicle carrying the coffin and another officer struck by a drone illegally flying at the funeral.
On April 15, an MTA transit worker was assaulted with urine from a container on the #6 line in the Bronx, prompting the TWU to call for increased patrols as the suspect may have been targeting female employees.
A body discovered in a Staten Island storage facility was said to be that of missing teacher Jeanine Cammarata, 37. Her husband Michael was taken into custody on charges of assault and was a prime suspect in the murder on April 5.
A sightseeing helicopter crashed into the Hudson River, injuring the pilot and a dockworker who was nearby. Another helicopter pilot died in June after he crashed his helicopter onto the roof of a midtown office building in heavy fog and rain.
On May 24, a man was being sought for pulled brakes on subway trains in Chelsea, causing delays, inconvenience and danger to straphangers.
On May 31, Police officer Valerie Cincinelli, 34, of Oceanside was arrested in a murder for hire plot of her husband and the daughter of a boyfriend. She was also charged with obstruction for trying to cover up the plot by destroying phones and records.
The city put the brakes on a long running scam that allowed an ice cream truck company to get away with $4.5 million in parking tickets, red light and speed camera summonses. More than 50 trucks were seized by City Marshals on June 6.
Detective Joseph Calabrese of Marine Park was found in Plumb Beach in Brooklyn with a self-inflicted gunshot wound on June 7. The incident brought into focus suicides among police officers. Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri killed himself in May.
A suspicious 5-alarm fire raced through a row of Queen Anne style homes in Midwood, injuring 13 on June 14. A man was later arrested for setting the fire, apparently targeting a local rabbi.
The MTA announced they would add police to the subway system, augmenting the NYPD’s efforts in the subways to curb assaults against subway workers and fare evasion. Gov. Andrew Cuomo later this year announced the total to be 500, as he said crime on the subways had surged.
Detective Luis Alvarez died of 9-11 related cancer illness after having fought successfully in Congress to continue funding for 9-11 first responders who suffer from related illnesses to this day.
Wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein was indicted for sexually molesting and raping dozens of under-age women in his Florida home. He is jailed in the Manhattan Federal correctional center on July 9. Epstein later hung himself, causing focus on lax jail security and charges against guards.
Feds decide not to bring civil rights charges against Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo for the 2014 choke hold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island. Commissioner O’Neill later fired him. Both announcements triggered outrage.
More than 50,000 households were without power when a black out hit many parts of the city. Con Ed was blamed for shutting power after several transformers blew out.
One man was dead, 11 others wounded in Brownsville at the Old Timers Day festival, the first mass shooting in Brooklyn this year, on July 29. Police blamed gang violence and eventually captured the suspect in the shooting which was aimed at another gang member.
The body of an 18-year swimmer was recovered on Rockaway Beach by firefighters and police – the third such drowning in the rough waters in Queens during the summer.
A national outcry for gun control, including mass rallies in New York City, came as a result of mass shootings in El Paso Texas and Dayton, Ohio. The two shootings took the lives of 31 people and injured dozens more.
J’Ouvert and West Indian Day parades were peaceful, but not in other parts of Brooklyn. A masked gunman was shot and killed in a running gun-battle with police in Brownsville. A woman heading to J’Ouvert was killed earlier in that same morning in Flatbush and several others wounded.
Shootings were up 7.6 percent, sparking concerns city-wide.
Police Officer Brian Mulkeen, 33, assigned to the 48th Precinct, was shot to death in the third NYPD friendly-fire incident in which he struggled with another man who tried to take his gun during an arrest in the Bronx’s Edenwald Houses on Sept. 30.
A homeless man was charged in the beating deaths of four fellow homeless men sleeping on the streets in Chinatown sparking a debate about housing homeless and getting mental health care to them.
Two police-related shootings resulted in two men shot, but expected to survive in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Both were said to be armed.
Another shooting later in the month, hit a police officer in the vest, but the suspect was killed. Another man was killed in Brownsville Brooklyn after he struck a cop in the head with a chair, leaving him in a coma. The cop shot him before losing consciousness.
A student allegedly beaten by cops sues the city after subway brawl at Jay Street in Brooklyn. A video shows the officer attack the student and prompted protests.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill announces his retirement and is replaced by Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea. The announcement comes as homicides surged above last year as was robberies and violent assaults.
A massive water main break in Sunset Park floods streets and cuts water to many homes and businesses. In a different kind of break, residents of South Jamaica, only a few days later, found sewage backing up into their homes from a collapsed sewer pipe. More than 200 homes were affected, some left uninhabitable.
The City Council passed a placard abuse bill that will hold even police officers to account for parking at hydrants, bus stops and in bike lanes.
In Commissioner Dermot Shea’s first briefing, he revealed murders would surpass the year before totals. Subsequently, he named a flurry of new promotions and appointments to battle homicides, robberies and gun assaults, all on the rise.
Six people were killed in an anti-Semitic hate filled shooting in Jersey City. Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the Jewish community where two of the victims had lived before being killed in a kosher deli in New Jersey. Commissioner Shea announced a new unit that will investigate and seek out hate groups.
The killing of an 18-year-old Barnard College student in Morningside Park sparks outrage, a massive vigil and a manhunt by the NYPD for young teens. One 13-year-old is in custody and a 14-year-old is still being sought.
Police officials finally come clean about a swirling rumor about police radios going to become encrypted and therefore silent to the media and volunteer ambulance and fire organizations. The revelation leads to calls for meetings to discuss how to maintain transparency for the NYPD, while keeping communications from criminals.