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amNY Year in Review: The biggest and most shocking NYC crime stories in 2021

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An emotionally disturbed man held a shogun to his chin.
Photo by Dean Moses

New York City experienced another rough year in crime. While shootings and murders began tailing off a bit the second half of 2021, the NYPD reported crime increases fueled largely by property theft.

From the beginning, amNewYork Metro has been on the scene for many of the most serious, violent and shocking offenses across the city this year — from police-involved shootings to deadly stabbings, and even an armed standoff outside the United Nations headquarters.

We’ve cultivated a list of some of the most memorable incidents this year, starting with the most recent.

December

A man points a shotgun at his chin outside the United Nations during a standoff on Dec. 2, 2021. Photo by Dean Moses

The month of December began with one of the most dramatic scenes of the entire year. An emotionally disturbed Florida man plastered a shotgun loaded with one buckshot to his chin outside of the United Nations on Dec. 2. While the armed standoff between a battalion of NYPD officers and the unhinged individual ended peacefully, the startling images of the face-off served almost as a poignant conclusion to a year plagued by firearm crime.

Read more: https://www.amny.com/new-york/manhattan/breaking-man-engages-cops-in-armed-standoff-outside-united-nations/

The suspect’s firearm was recovered at the scene of the shootout in Woodside, Queens on Dec. 16, 2021. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

On Dec. 16, an off-duty NYPD lieutenant was left in critical condition when three suspects attempted to rob him outside of a Queens nightclub. The jewelry heist didn’t go as planned, however. The officer fought back, resulting in a shootout that killed one suspect in Woodside. Two days after the incident, officers cuffed another suspect in the case. The 19-year-old had already been arrested 12 times in the past, yet as the NYPD led him away in handcuffs it was clear he wouldn’t be back on the streets for a long time to come.

Cristian Cruz, 19, was escorted out of the 108 Precinct in Long Island City to court for his alleged involvement in a shootout that critically injured an off-duty officer. Photo by Dean Moses

Read more:  https://www.amny.com/news/queens-shootout-suspect-arrested-attempted-murder-nypd-lieutenant/  

November

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A man was murdered on Thanksgiving night in a brutal, Penn Station stabbing. The holiday proved deadly for one 36-year-old man who, after engaging in a dispute near the transit hub, was stabbed in the chest by what was reported by police to be two assailants. The victim was believed to have been homeless.

Read more: https://www.amny.com/news/man-stabbed-to-death-near-penn-station/  

Armed officers secure the scene with tape. Photo by Dean Moses

On Nov. 16, a gang related shootout occurred in Midtown. The wild gunfight left three injured and two shooters locked up. Injuries included bullet wounds entering a man’s leg, chest, and abdomen, respectively. A ghost gun was recovered from the incident, showcasing the sheer deadly damage of the difficult-to-track firearms.

Read more: https://www.amny.com/new-york/wild-midtown-gunfight-leaves-three-injured-two-shooters-cuffed-cops/  

October 

A police official enters a home in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn where an off-duty cop allegedly shot two women, killing one of them, in an apparent domestic dispute on Oct. 13, 2021. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

An off-duty police officer allegedly went berserk on Oct. 13 after discovering her partner having an affair. The bloody end to the love triangle took place in a Bensonhurst, Brooklyn home after the enraged cop, Yvonne Wu, was reported to have shot both her lover and the new girlfriend, killing the latter.

Read more: https://www.amny.com/new-york/brooklyn/off-duty-officer-allegedly-shoots-two-women-in-brooklyn/  

Transit officers catch Union Square shooter on Oct. 26. Photo by Dean Moses

On Oct. 25 a trigger-happy gunman shot a Union Square subway rider who did not give up his goods fast enough. The robber was also suspected of several bank heists. A keen-eyed NYPD officer spotted the suspect who failed to change his flashy green footwear, which led to his arrest.

Read more:  https://www.amny.com/news/if-the-shoe-fits-alleged-union-square-shooter-cuffed-moments-after-chelsea-bank-heist/  

September

Fifteen individuals were arrested during an NYPD drug bust. Photo by Dean Moses

Police took down an alleged drug family syndicate in the Bronx on Sept. 8 in dramatic fashion. Officers bravely suited up with bullet-proof vests and helmets to undertake a sting that began before dawn and saw detectives engaging in knock warrants which led to some 15 arrests of drug peddlers. The operation reportedly had a monumental effect on narcotic recovery in the area, according to the NYPD.

Officers bravely take down a drug syndicate on Sept. 8. Photo by Dean Moses

Read more: https://www.amny.com/news/exclusive-go-inside-a-police-drug-raid-in-the-bronx-that-led-to-15-arrests/  

After a two year investigation, police take down an auto crime ring on Sept. 21 in the Bronx. Photo by Dean Moses

On Sept. 21, NYPD officers took down an elaborate auto theft ring in Manhattan and the Bronx following a lengthy investigation. Thieves had adopted a new technology that allowed them to digitally clone car key fobs in order to gain access to vehicles without damaging them. However, after an extensive two-year investigation, an NYPD task force thwarted the high-tech operation, arresting nine participants and seizing 12 stolen vehicles.

Tips from the community brought police to an auto shop in the Bronx. Photo by Dean Moses

Read more: https://www.amny.com/news/exclusive-inside-look-at-nypd-takedown-of-bronx-auto-crime-ring/  

August

An officer at the scene of a July 31, 2021 mass shooting in Corona, Queens that left 10 people injured. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

A shooting investigation occurred late at night on July 31 well into the morning of Aug. 1. The now infamous mass shooting by a brazen gunman, who strolled through a Queens street popping off rounds, left the NYPD and residents alike shocked by the carelessness of the attack. The incident that began in front of a laundromat near the corner of 99th Street and 37th Avenue in Corona was believed to have been a planned gang attack. The shocking assault of bullets that spanned a four-block radius, leaving ten wounded and many more shaken.

An NYPD member at the scene of a gang shooting in Corona, Queens on Aug. 1, 2021. Photo by Dean Moses

Read more: https://www.amny.com/new-york/queens/developing-ten-people-shot-outside-queens-laundromat/

Police guard the crime scene at the corner of Georgia and Wortman Avenues in East New York, Brooklyn, where five men were shot on Aug. 8, 2021. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Early August proved to be particularly bloody. On Aug. 8 three men died in two separate shootings that occurred within an hour’s time frame, police confirmed. The shootings transpired in Brooklyn’s East New York that left a 25-year-old, a 36-year-old, and a 51-year-old dead. Additionally, three other men were also shot in what developed into a mass shooting at the corner of Georgia and Wortman Avenues.

Read more: https://www.amny.com/new-york/brooklyn/suspect-questioned-brooklyn-shooting-man-dead/  

July

Officers from the 73rd Precinct look for clues in a fatal shooting on Pitkin Avenue and Osborn Street in Brownsville, Brooklyn on Friday, July 16. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

As the summer of shootings progressed, two men were fatally shot in Brooklyn and Harlem on July 16.  Around 4pm on the corner of West 111th Street and 5th Avenue a suspect walked up to a man and shot him in the head, executing the 35-year-old victim. The suspect fled the scene. While in Brooklyn at 8:24 pm, outside of the Quality Inn at 124 Osborn Street in Brownsville, a 25-year-old man was shot in the chest.

Read more: https://www.amny.com/new-york/brooklyn/nyc-shootings-brooklyn-man-gunned-down-near-hotel/  

As one advocate was being arrested, she shouted “Housing is a human right!” Photo by Dean Moses

Not all arrests made in 2021 were due to violent crime or from nefarious intent. On July 29 a group of homeless rights advocates blocked a roadway outside of City Hall to demand the city stop transferring unhoused individuals from hotels and into congregate shelters. The demonstration saw 11 arrests, with one being made after a heavy-footed driver attempted to bypass the roadblock and roared onto the sidewalk.

Read more: https://www.amny.com/news/housing-advocates-street-sit-in-ends-in-11-arrests-calling-mayor-de-blasio-a-broken-record/

June

Jovan Young, 29, was arrested on June 8, 2021 for shooting and killing 10-year-old Justin Wallace in the Rockaways over the weekend. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

June unfortunately was marred by the senseless killing of 10-year-old Justin Wallace in Edgemere, Queens on June 5. Jovan Young allegedly ambushed Wallace and his 29-year-old uncle after exiting a sedan and walking up to a stoop and firing eight shots before fleeing the scene. Young turned himself in a few days later.

Officers from the 101 Precinct probe a double shooting on Beach 45th Street in Edgemere, Queens on June 5, 2021, when a 10-year-old boy was shot and killed. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Read more: https://www.amny.com/police-fire/queens-cops-arrest-suspect-in-fatal-shooting-of-10-year-old-justin-wallace/  

Officers preside over the bloody scene. Photo by Dean Moses

Over 2021, Times Square became the prime location in shootings and stabbings. One slashing left a 35-year-old man with head lacerations. As police searched for the suspect, pools of blood could be observed at the scene. 

Read more: https://www.amny.com/news/slashing-leaves-pools-of-blood-in-times-square-subway-station/  

May

A police officer stands across 7th Avenue in Times Square on May 8, 2021. Photo by Dean Moses

In May, New York City witnessed a 22% uptick in major felonies across the five boroughs. On May 8, a gunman shot three people in Times Square in broad daylight, including a four-year-old girl. The shooting happed just before rush hour on West 44th Street and 7th Avenue when an unidentified shooter opened fire injuring a 46-year-old, 23-year-old, and a four-year-old girl.

“How many kids have to be shot before we take this seriously?” Police Commissioner Dermot Shea asked while speaking about the May 8 shooting of three bystanders in Times Square. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Read more: https://www.amny.com/new-york/manhattan/woman-and-young-girl-shot-in-times-square/  

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. Photo by Dean Moses

On May 15, four teens were arrested after a series of slashing along the 4-train. The suspects approached a 44-year-old man at the Union Square Station at 4:25 am, slashing him in the face, and then on Astor Place they struck again slashing two men, a 40-year-old and 41-year-old. The teens excited at the Brooklyn Bridge at 4:37 am slashing a 44-year-old man in the back of the head. Each of these incidents occurred within 15 minutes. The final attack happened at the 59th Street-Columbus Circle station where they stabbed a 48-year-old man in the eye.

Read more: https://www.amny.com/news/two-men-sought-for-attacking-four-at-multiple-4-train-stops-in-manhattan-in-less-than-15-minutes/

April

Medical Examiers remove the bodies of two infants from 31-76 51 St. in the Woodside Houses on April 22, 2021. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

April saw a 30% crime spike, marked by a heinous incident where two infants were found dead in Woodside. According to police officials, they were following up on a welfare check when they discovered one baby lifeless in its crib and another unresponsive inside of a sink. The twins were identified as 46 days old Dakota and Dallis Bentley. The mother was taken into custody.

Neighbors cried as they remembered six-week-old Dakota and Dallis Bentley. Photo by Dean Moses

Read more: https://www.amny.com/new-york/queens/two-infants-dead-in-queens-apartment-mom-in-custody/  

A man was fatally shot in the chest in front of a home on Osborn Street in Brownsville, Brooklyn on April 20, 2021. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

A 49-year-old man, Vernon Kelly, was shot dead on Osborn Street in Brownsville, Brooklyn after coming to his daughter’s aid when she and her ex-boyfriend had a dispute. According to sources familiar with the investigation, the shooting stemmed from a feud between Kelly’s daughter and her ex. After her confrontation with her former lover in Brownsville, she called for her father’s help. The incident turned physical before the suspect shot Kelly in the chest.

Read more: https://www.amny.com/new-york/brooklyn/brooklyn-man-shot-to-death-in-dispute-with-his-daughters-ex/  

March

Court officers lined up to honor the deceased. Photo by Dean Moses

On March 1, a court officer committed suicide using his own firearm inside of New York County Family Court at about 3 p.m.. According to Dennis Quirk, President of the New York State Court Officers Association, the court officer asked a colleague to cover him during a bathroom break where he shot himself in the head. The 50-year-old court officer had 15 years experience on the job, and he was said to be kind to those around him.

​​Read more: https://www.amny.com/new-york/family-court-officer-commits-suicide-while-on-duty-in-manhattan/ 

Cynthia Duffy begged for anyone with information on her daughter’s death to come forward. Photo by Dean Moses

A mother screamed in anguish as she implored community members and NYPD officials to stop gun violence in the Bronx. Cynthia Duffy mourned the loss of her 20-year-old daughter, Delila Vasquez, who was shot in the head and killed at 3339 Hull Avenue in Norwood.

Read more: https://www.amny.com/news/heartbroken-bronx-mother-cries-out-for-an-end-to-gun-violence-after-daughters-slaying/

February

All entranceways to the 1st Avenue 8th Avenue bound train station have been blocked off in pursuit of a knife-wielding suspect. Photo by Dean Moses

According to crime statistics, hate crimes have risen exponentially over the course of 2020 and in just the second month of 2021 several Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) were assaulted, beaten, and killed. On February 3rd, Noel Quintana was riding the Manhattan-bound L train when a disgruntled man slashed him across the face. Quintana was on the floor bleeding and no commuter stopped to help him. Since then, he joined advocates in fighting against Asian hate crimes.

Noel Quintana
Noel Quintana is left with a gigantic scar across his face. Photo by Dean Moses

​​Read more: https://www.amny.com/news/cops-seek-suspect-who-slashed-man-in-the-face-in-east-village/  

Gunfire was reported on Feb. 16, 2021 at Delancey and Clinton Streets. Photo by Dean Moses

In the Lower East Side, a senior woman was the victim of gun violence when a shooter sent a hail of bullets on Delancey Street. The 75-year-old woman was sitting her apartment when a bullet came through, striking her in the rear end. She was taken to a nearby hospital and remained in stable condition.

Read more: https://www.amny.com/news/senior-woman-shot-inside-lower-east-side-home-after-gunman-blasts-bullets-on-nearby-street/

January

Detectives review surveillance video from a corner deli. Photo by Dean Moses

The first indication of what the year would become stirred in the East Village on Jan. 18. Gunfire erupted on East 3rd Street and Avenue C in Alphabet City after nightfall and according to police a 36-year-old man received a bullet wound to the chest. The man died of his injuries.

Read more: https://www.amny.com/news/cops-seek-shooter-who-gunned-down-man-in-east-village/  

Brooklyn murder suspect Kevin Gavins, 66, is walked out of the 73rd Precinct by detectives on Jan. 21, 2021. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

The NYPD began the year by busting an alleged serial killer who had been preying on elderly NYCHA residents for years. According to NYPD officials, Kevin Gavin had been murdering seniors at Brownsville’s Carter G. Woodson Houses. He gained access to his victims’ homes by offering aid as a friendly neighbor before ruthlessly ending their lives. Gavin was arrested for his crimes on Jan. 20.

Read more: https://www.amny.com/news/police-charge-suspected-brooklyn-serial-killer-who-allegedly-murdered-elderly-nycha-residents/   

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