Acting as both the Republican mayoral nominee and head of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa condemned a recent act of gun violence in Manhattan Valley while vowing to send his liege of volunteer patrollers to the neighborhood.
Sliwa spoke on Aug. 31 in front of a nail salon near the corner of West 105th Street and Columbus Avenue, not too far from where two men had been shot and wounded the previous evening.
Police sources said a 45-year-old man took a bullet to his chest and an 81-year-old man had been shot in the right foot while standing in front of the location at about 6:36 p.m. on Aug. 30. EMS rushed both victims to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, where they are recovering from their injuries.
Detectives are now looking for the shooter, described by the NYPD as a Black man in his 20s who was seen fleeing on foot after the gunfire.
Sliwa came to the Upper West Side neighborhood after being informed of the shooting by one of his long-time friends, Carmen Quinones, president of the Frederick Douglass Tenants Association, which represents some 3,000 residents living at the public housing complex just down the block from the shooting scene.
He relayed some of the details that Quinones provided him of the shooting, describing a dramatic scene in which the gunman began firing shots from a deli across the street from the nail salon, sending people running for cover.
“An 81-year-old man who sits outside there daily wound up getting shot, the intended target was shot,” said Sliwa, referring to the 45-year-old man wounded in the shooting. Police sources, however, would not confirm or deny to amNewYork Metro if the shooter had targeted the 45-year-old man.
“This is a situation we see over and over and over again in the City of New York,” Sliwa said.
He then turned his fury against the term-limited incumbent mayor, Bill de Blasio, who’s not on the ballot in November. Sliwa did not mention his actual opponent in the Nov. 2 general election, Brooklyn Borough President and Democratic nominee Eric Adams, a former police officer.
“The men and women of this (the 24th) precinct care, but unfortunately, this mayor, Bill de Blasio, has asked them to stand down,” Sliwa alleged. “They’re reactive, not proactive.”
While pledging to “quadruple” the number of his Guardian Angels in the Upper West Side area, Sliwa also vowed to respond with the NYPD to shootings should he be elected mayor. But he also remarked, “When I’m mayor, situations like this are not going to take place.”
Quinones, who made a failed bid for the 7th City Council District seat in the June Democratic primary, said the issue of public safety near the Frederick Douglass Houses wasn’t a matter of politics, but life and death.
“This is about human life, and my kids are dying at record numbers,” she claimed. “When is enough enough? My tenants, my residents, I have 3,000 residents in the Frederick Douglass Houses and none of them can come out. Our seniors are being held hostage in their homes, scared to come out to even get a loaf of bread. Nobody wants to walk on Columbus Avenue because you don’t know if you’re going to get shot.”
At Tuesday’s press conference, Sliwa criticized the reduction in the NYPD headcount from 38,000 to 34,500 officers, and questioned whether the cuts had impacted its vaunted Counterterrorism Division.
In fact, the NYPD did not order counterterrorism cuts in its controversial reduction of the NYPD budget in July 2020, which primarily focused on delaying NYPD academy classes and shifting the School Safety Division over to the Department of Education. Police funding was primarily kept at the same levels in the new budget agreed upon in June of this year.