As City of Newburgh cops looked for clues in Wednesday's triple homicide, relatives and friends of the victims said they were not affiliated with gang members or the city's drug trade.
Two men and a woman were shot about 2:30 a.m. at a multifamily residence at 98 S. William St., near Liberty Street, City of Newburgh police said. One of the male victims made the 911 call to police, then is believed to have crawled into the backyard where police found him, News12 reported.
Details on the victims were scarce. Two of them died at the scene and one was declared dead shortly after being brought to St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh, police said.
Cops didn't release the names of the victims, but relatives and friends told News12 the victims were named John Lewis, Pam Jenkins and Henry Travis Blue. The three were roommates, relatives said.
"I can't take this," said Ava Lewis, who told News12 that victim John Lewis, known as "FoFo," is her cousin. "This is crazy."
Whyola Prado, who told News12 she was a friend of Jenkins', said Jenkins had been living with Prado's recently deceased stepfather and had buried him Tuesday, Prado said.
"She was always a quiet person," Prado told News12. "She was always good with me and my kids."
Police were withholding the victims' names pending family notification.
The violence was not believed to be gang-related, a police source told News12, although a City Council member expressed concern that it may have been connected to gang activity.
"We go into a lull with things. They seem to get better, then boom, it explodes," City Councilman Curlie Dillard told News12. "That's Newburgh. We have to get the guns, gangs and vices off our city streets."
Friends and relatives told News12 the three were not involved with gangs or drugs, but they struggled to offer a reason why the victims were targeted.
City of Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy recently took exception when U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon called Newburgh "the most pathetic place in the state of New York" while sentencing a member of the Bloods gang in a drug-related homicide.
"You all know, everybody knows how I feel about this, that there is one industry in Newburgh, it is selling drugs," McMahon said during the sentencing late last month. "There is one law in Newburgh: It is the law of the street."
No arrests have been made and no motive has been released.
Kennedy, who formally invited McMahon to take a tour of "the great things going on in this city," acknowledged Wednesday that the problem is more than the perception of outsiders, as she suggested following McMahon's remarks.
"We absolutely recognize that we have a problem, and we're doing something about it," Kennedy said.
The apartment building at 98 S. William St. was built in 1900, according to real estate website trulia.com, and sits about two blocks from the Washington Headquarters State Historic Site.
City of Newburgh police were being assisted in the investigation by State Police and the Orange County district attorney's office. Anyone with information on the killings is asked to call City of Newburgh police at 845-561-3131.