In a year of increased violence, New York City hit a grim bench mark Tuesday — its 922nd shooting victim of 2020, matching the total for all of 2019, according to NYPD statistics.
By midnight Monday, police had already had 919 shooting victims. Three hours later, the discovery of three men shot in the same incident at Wyona Street in Brooklyn pushed the toll for the year to 922, officials said. The three victims, ranging in age from 23 to 41, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
This year’s total number of victims were the result of 756 shootings, many of which occurred in Brooklyn and the Bronx, as well as northern Manhattan, according to officials. The lowest number of shooting victims in the modern era of police record-keeping came in 2018, with 897, out of 754 incidents, police data showed.
From Monday through early Tuesday, the city saw 15 people wounded in 11 shootings. That spasm of violence followed the wounding Sunday of 18 people in 15 shootings. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, who along with Mayor Bill de Blasio has rolled out various initiatives to quell the gunfire, voiced disappointment about the weekend toll.
“When you have a day with 15 shootings in New York City, that is not a success," Shea said Monday in a television interview. "There is no other way to put that."
Along with shootings, homicides have also increased this year in the city. Through Sunday, the city had 227 killings, up 29% from the same period in 2019.
An NYPD spokesman didn't return a request for comment from Shea.
In recent weeks, the police commissioner has voiced cautious optimism about initiatives designed to stem the shooting wave, including shifting officers to gunfire hot spots, having gun buyback programs and using the efforts of community leaders and clergy as so-called violence interrupters.
During his Tuesday media briefing, de Blasio reiterated his belief that a “perfect storm” of factors, such as a court system not fully functioning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has contributed to the spike in violence.
Police officials have said that while some gun defendants are being processed in court, the lack of grand juries has allowed about 40% of those charged in firearm cases to be released on their own recognizance. That freedom for some defendants, officials have said, emboldens other shooters.
While the city has been trying different approaches to stop the shootings, the coming weeks are traditionally the most violent on New York City streets, said a police expert and former NYPD cop.
"It only gets worse from here,” said Joseph Giacalone, a former NYPD sergeant who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “The summer always brings out more shootings, but in the situation we are in now, we know there is nothing to prevent criminals from carrying guns.”
Giacalone said Shea’s decision to disband the anti-crime units was also a contributing factor to the increased shootings. Shea moved the anti-crime cops to patrol units, in part to prevent officers from being drawn into shootings. The anti-crime units also were sometimes accused of improper stop-and-frisk searches.
New York City shooting trends
|2019 (through July 26)||431||500|
|2020 (through July 28 noon)||756||922|