New York Daily News
NYPD big: City’s gun crime crisisSEE PAGES
Frisks down, slays up & cop big warns ...
ALARMING murder stats released by the NYPD on Monday suggest the city might be losing its war on gun violence.
Homicides are up nearly 20%, with guns accounting for 72% of the year’s 135 murders.
“We’re struggling with homicides and shootings,” said Chief of Department James O’Neill.
We’re struggling with homicides and shootings. NYPD CHIEF JAMES O’NEILL
THE NYPD IS IN AN all-out battle with illegal guns — and all of us are losing.
More people are getting shot. More people are being killed. And fewer people are being stopped and frisked.
“We’re struggling with homicides and shootings,” NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill said Monday. “As we expect when warm weather comes, we see an increase in certain crimes.”
O’Neill laid out the grim numbers during a press conference at 1 Police Plaza, revealing a 19.5% spike in homicides during the first five months of the year. There were 135 murders through Sunday compared to 113 at the same time last year.
Of this year’s murder victims, an alarming 72% died of gun violence, officials. It’s usually around 57%.
O’Neill, who added that cops might be performing more stops in crime-plagued areas, said the spike in crime keeps the NYPD brass awake at night.
“When we’re talking about murders and shootings, we’re talking about people’s lives,” he told reporters. “These are not just numbers. And that’s what our business is about, saving lives. We do not take this lightly. This is our focus. This is what keeps (us) up at night.”
Police records show there were 510 people hit by gunfire this year — a 9.3% increase from the 467 people hit by bullets through May 31 of last year. With the summer months on the horizon, cops are gearing up for a seasonal increase in violence.
Despite the increase in shootings and homicides, overall crime was down 6.6% through Sunday compared with the same period last year.
The NYPD is hoping to prevent more bloodshed in part with its Summer All Out initiative, which floods problem areas with additional cops. O’Neill said the summer initiative last year helped stem the increase in shootings and homicides. More than 330 cops normally assigned to non-enforcement roles are at the Police Academy training for this year’s deployment. They will start next Monday, a month earlier than last year.
Cops will also be assigned to a violence-reduction overtime program this summer, working 4 p.m. to midnight and midnight to 8 a.m.
O’Neill said police might also be performing more stop-and-frisks where needed.
“If we see an area where there is an increase in violence, of course we’re going to put more resources in there, but the stops that we want are good stops,” he said. “We want stops and summary enforcement activity to the people connected to the violence.”
Cops performed 7,125 stops during the first quarter of the year. During the same time last year, there were 14,261 stops — just over twice the number from the first three months of 2015, records show.
The stepped-up enforcement can’t come soon enough for John Farr, 50, a bystander shot in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, on Sunday.
“I was going out to get groceries,” Farr told the Daily News at Kings County Hospital.
“I stepped out and all of a sudden, shots rang out,” he said. “I felt a sharp pain in my back and I went down. I started bleeding and I felt that my lower back was wet.”
Startling video shows the gunman on Malcolm X Blvd. walking down the sidewalk and holding a Glock 19 around 3:40 p.m. The man, wearing a brown sweatsuit, fired 22 times in two bursts from the automatic weapon — trying to steady his aim by resting the gun on his arm.
A police source said the shooting stemmed from a dispute over drugs between the gunman and someone else. The gunman remained at large, but police found his sweatshirt and the gun.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Dermot Shea acknowledged the uptick in crime has ignited fears that there are more guns on the street.
“The level of homicides committed is substantially higher,” he said. “Is that indicative of more guns on the street? It’s something that we're looking at. Or is it a comfort level of the accessibility of guns and the ease of getting them.”
He said that many of the shootings and homicides were gang-related. In the last four or five years in the city there are “groups that seem to be shooting each other for absolutely no reason,” he said.
The 81st Precinct, where Farr was shot, had more shootings in May — with nine — than any other precinct. Elizabeth Handley, 49, lives in the neighborhood and said her 28-year-old son, Louis, was shot to death there a year ago. Cops haven’t made an arrest.
“There’s a shooting every weekend,” she said. “And now with summer coming — just forget about it.”