Shootings in New York City spiked by more than 166% in April compared to the same period in 2020, and major crime — fueled by sharp increases in rapes and grand larcenies — topped 30% for the month, the NYPD said Wednesday.
The latest department crime data also revealed a 400% spike in crimes targeting Asian Americans. Separately, the data showed increases in nearly every category of serious felonies, except for burglaries, which had risen sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic but dropped just over 26% in April compared to last year.
In April 2021, grand larcenies were up by 66.1%, rape, which is considered an underreported crime, rose by 53%, felonious assaults climbed 35%, auto thefts spiked by 34.2%, robberies were up by 28.6% and homicides rose by 15.8%, the data showed.
Shootings, which are counted separately, soared by 166% in April over the same month last year. The spike is considered a significant reason why shootings so far in 2021 are up 85% for the year so far over 2020. Last year, shootings rose about 100% over 2019 to a level not seen since 2006.
Experts worry that the coming summer months will see more bloodshed and underscore the city's worsening crime problem.
"I think the news in this that New York City for many years was walled off from rest of the country [in terms of serious crime], said Eugene O'Donnell, a former member of the NYPD who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
"New York City almost seemed to be bulletproof, no pun intended," he said of the past historic drops in crime.
The increase in violence is alarming, O'Donnell said, and threatens to push the city into the same category of other large crime-ravaged cities like Chicago, which has been plagued by high murder and shooting rates.
Overall, serious crimes for the year so far are still down about 7% compared to 2020. But that differential slipped in recent weeks, according to the NYPD.
April's crime increase also comes at a time when bias crimes against Asian Americans rose 400% for the month over last year, from 16 to 80, according to the NYPD. The surge prompted the NYPD to recently start a special unit to target attacks against Asian Americans.
Crime statistics through April for Nassau and Suffolk counties weren't immediately available Wednesday. Newsday recently reported that for 2020, Nassau had a 7.16% increase for the year and Suffolk was up by 0.3%.
One troubling trend, said former NYPD Det. Sgt. Joseph Giacalone, is the April spike in grand larcenies. Giacalone, who also teaches at John Jay, said the pandemic kept grand larcenies — normally a high-volume crime category — lower, and also pulled down overall crime numbers for 2020. He said an increase in grand larcenies signals a risk of an overall crime spike for the year.
For April, the largest increase in shootings were in Brooklyn, the Bronx and city public housing areas. Shootings in the public housing areas spiked by 266%, according to the latest statistics.
In a statement, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said that with courts reopening, cops will be able to work more with prosecutors to wrap up a number of major investigations focused on "the drivers of violence."
Shea also said acoustic ShotSpotter technology, teamed up with targeted patrols and field intelligence officers, are part of a department strategy to drive down shootings. The NYPD reported 223 gun arrests in April, an increase of just eight more than the same period in 2020, officials said.
Part of the problem with the increased violence, according to O'Donnell, were operational decisions by the NYPD to cut out anti-crime units in high crime areas.
"My perception is guns are everywhere," O'Donnell said.