The suspect behind a series of shootings targeting homeless men in New York and Washington, DC this month remains in custody in our nation’s capitol Tuesday following his arrest by police there, with charges in the Big Apple still pending.
Yet during a Tuesday press conference at One Police Plaza, top NYPD officials expressed confidence that they had gotten their man with the assistance of Washington, DC Metro Police Department officers and federal agents. They revealed details of the arduous, nearly 72-hour effort from the time police first found a homeless man shot in SoHo to the suspected shooter’s apprehension.
Just after 5 a.m. on March 12, a 38-year-old man was shot in front of a King Street location. He suffered a gunshot wound to his forearm, and was treated.
The second shooting victim that day wasn’t as lucky. A second homeless man was found fatally shot in the head and neck in front of 138 Lafayette St. in Lower Manhattan just after 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Both attacks sent shock and alarm throughout the city, particularly among the homeless population.
New York City’s top cop Keechant Sewell joined Chief of Department Kenneth Corey and Chief of Detectives James Essig said the NYPD worked closely with the Metro Police Department, the FBI, and ATF in order to help track down the man allegedly responsible for terrorizing the homeless community across two states.
“We all serve the same public safety mission, and we know how vital it is that we rely on each other, especially now. Every day, we are dealing with threats that can originate anywhere and target any one of us. We know that violent criminals do not concern themselves with precinct borders, jurisdictional boundaries, or state lines, and we can’t be restricted by them either. So, we work together, share information openly, and learn from each other,” Commissioner Sewell said.
While NYPD officials expressed pride in the effort, they also cautioned that they themselves have not placed charges yet. The still unnamed suspect is currently being held in Washington DC’s Homicide Branch, where he is being interviewed for the DC crimes while the NYPD presents its evidence to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
Still identifying the DC suspect as a “strong person of interest” in the New York cases, police officials believe they have enough evidence to will him to the two Lower Manhattan shootings through ballistic evidence, surveillance videos, and photographs that showed the same black pants, Puma sneakers, and mask.
But the firearm used in the shootings, a .22-caliber handgun, has yet to be recovered, according to Chief of Detectives Essig.
“We immediately realize it is the same perpetrator in both instances based on the .22 caliber, homeless men, the same clothing description, and close proximity to each other,” Essig said.
Essig cited a slew of tips received through the Crime Stoppers hotline following Monday’s joint press conference held by New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser as being instrumental in helping lead to the arrest. However, cops are still requesting the aid of New Yorkers.
Essig asked the public to look at photos of the suspect and if they recognize him to contact them immediately.
The suspect was believed to have arrived in New York City via Pennsylvania Station during the early morning hours of March 12. After shooting two homeless men–one fatality–that same morning, he reportedly returned to Washington D.C.
Essig praised a former Queens resident, who works for the Metropolitan Police Department, for first linking the shootings between the two states while also revealing that NYPD detectives have been sent to the capital to aid with the ongoing investigation as Metropolitan Police issue search warrants.
Although the suspect has no prior criminal history, NYPD officials said that he does have prior arrests in several other states. In addition, the NYPD urged other states to take a closer look at the suspect in the event that he committed similar crimes elsewhere as well.
“We have all law enforcement throughout the country looking at their cases to see if there’s any matches with that. The ATF is looking through the different regions. We had a conference call with all major police chiefs throughout the country. We advised them of what we had and to be aware of this and look at their cases,” Essig added.