NYC SHOOTINGS: Three more dead in Brooklyn and Bronx as gun violence surge continues

Police Officers look for clues into a shooting on Martense Street in Flatbush. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)

Three more people were slain and four others wounded between Wednesday night and Thursday, a day after the NYPD released new statistics documenting a 166% increase in shootings and a 47% rise in homicides during August.

Officials worry that gun violence might surge again during the Labor Day holiday this weekend, as it did during the Fourth of July weekend that saw dozens of shootings. 

In the first shooting between Sept. 2-3, a 20-year-old man was shot at 8:41 p.m. Wednesday night while entering his car in front of 75 Martense St. in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Officers from the 70th Precinct said the victim was shot in the face, and raced to Kings County Hospital by private vehicle, but it was too late.

Detectives now say the attacker pulled up to the man in a black BMW sedan and fired at him, hitting him in the face and striking the vehicle. No other description was available.

Police Officers look for clues into a shooting on Martense Street in Flatbush. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)

“There is some type of beef on this block. It used to be a peaceful block, now they are raising hell,” said Mary O. who lives on the block.

In the second homicide, police say a 44-year-old man was shot at 8:50 p.m. inside of 70 Amsterdam Ave. near West 64th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Officers from the 20th Precinct say the victim was found inside an apartment in the Amsterdam Houses, a NYCHA development with multiple gunshot wounds to the body.

The victim, identified as Cedric Bennett of Amsterdam Avenue, was rushed by EMS to Mt. Sinai West Hospital, but he could not be saved.

Detectives are examining security video to identify the shooter in this case.

In the third homicide, an unidentified man was found with gunshot wounds to the body at 11:05 p.m. in front of West 175th Street and Saint Nicholas Avenue in Washington Heights, Manhattan. Police from the 33rd Precinct believe the assailant was a male black, with a white hoodie, black shirt, who then fled on a moped.

The victim was taken to Harlem Hospital, but he was dead on arrival. Police have not yet disclosed the victim’s identity.

Other citywide shootings

Sept. 2, 7:46 p.m. – A 33-year-old man was shot in the chest in front of 1066 President St. in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Members of the 71st Precinct believe the victim was getting out of a car when he was shot by an unknown assailant.

The victim was rushed by EMS to Kings County Hospital, where he was last reported in stable condition. No further information was available on the description of the assailant.

Sept. 3, midnight – A 26-year-old man was shot in his upper thigh as he got out of his car at 1120 Bergen St. in Crown Heights. Cops from the 77th Precinct say he was taken to Kings County Hospital in stable condition.

No further information is available on this case at this time.

Sept. 3, 4:31 a.m. – A 34-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound to his right foot as he walked at the corner of Ridgewood and Shepherd Avenues in East New York, Brooklyn.

Officers from the 75th Precinct say the victim told them he heard the shots and felt pain. No description was available on the shooter in this case. The victim was treated at Brookdale Hospital.

Police officers look for clues into a fatal shooting on Martense Street in Flatbush. (Photo by Lloyd Mitchell)

Anyone with information regarding these shootings can call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (for Spanish, dial 888-57-PISTA). You can also submit tips online at nypdcrimestoppers.com, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls and messages are kept confidential.

Why are shootings up?

Shootings and homicides are up significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to law enforcement sources who spoke with amNewYork Metro, much of it began as criminal gangs shipped handguns from southern states to New York City under the cover of the contagion in March and April.

Before the coronavirus hit, the sources noted, the NYPD, the state Attorney General’s office and federal authorities were already making arrests of people for trafficking weapons — but then, many of those same law enforcement people were hit with the pandemic, sidetracking many investigations.

The shooting spike overshadowed the NYPD report of an overall crime increase of just other 1% for the month. Other categories of major crimes also rose in August with robberies up 4%, burglaries – especially businesses that have been closed due to COVID-19 – increased 22%. Car theft also rose 68% – a choice of many shooters using stolen vehicles in their drive-by shootings. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner Dermot Shea continue to call the rash of shootings “a perfect storm” of events caused by the coronavirus, though their reasons for the surge differ. Shea insists the main causes include release of prisoners from Rikers Island, bail reform, and the mayor says unemployment, anger over quarantine, closing of venues and lack of resources to minority communities are big factors.

The NYPD’s efforts to address the surging violence includes shifting officers to areas experiencing upticks in shootings, collecting timely intelligence about crime and criminal conditions and addressing them in real time. The department is also conducting a combination of short and long-term investigations to root out the persistent drivers of violence, and having officers engage with residents at the grassroots level through Neighborhood Policing to focus on the problems. 

Even so, the number of gun arrests were relatively flat in August — with 359 collars reported, just two more than the total recorded in August 2019.