The Bronx has the highest homicide rate in New York City in 2021, with almost the largest number of shootings of any borough, at a time when authorities are struggling to cope with an alarming surge in violence, according to NYPD data analyzed by Newsday.
Although 2021 is not even half over, the Bronx, with a population of about 1.41 million, has a murder rate of 4.31 per 100,000 population, compared with a citywide rate of 2.44, based on 2019 Census Bureau population estimates.
The lowest rate is on Staten Island where six homicides translate to a rate of 1.26 on its population of 476,000.
Meanwhile, through June 20, shootings in the Bronx totaled 222 or up nearly 90% from 2020. Only Brooklyn, with an estimated population of 2.56 million, has more with 232 shootings, an increase of just over 32.5% from 2020, police data showed.
"Crew violence is driving the city shootings in terms of motive," Chief Michael LiPetri, head of NYPD crime control strategies, told Newsday on Tuesday. "You go to the Bronx, it is even more concentrated than other areas of city."
"We have just seen very stubborn areas in and around the southern Bronx that really have percolated because of crew violence," said LiPetri. "Six of the top  citywide shooting commands are in the Bronx."
"One of the most alarming statistics that has happened in the Bronx this year: 82% of your murder victims have been shot this year, 82%," LiPetri emphasized. "Last year it was 44%. The average for the city is usually around 55%. Guns are so prevalent in the city right now, but especially in the Bronx, it is just so alarming."
That sense of alarm was underscored last week with a chilling video released by cops that showed a brazen assailant firing at a man on a Sheridan Avenue sidewalk as two children, ages 10 and five, scrambled and cowered. The kids were unhurt but traumatized said police. The shooting victim was hospitalized and cops are looking for a person of interest.
In the Bronx, gun arrest defendants aren’t being held in jail, said LiPetri. He said the Bronx is well below the city average for bail being set in gun arrests, adding that the borough also is above the citywide average for gun suspects being released on their own recognizance.
"So there is no accountability," for carrying guns in the Bronx, LiPetri said. Gang members see that and are emboldened, he added.
Patrice O'Shaughnessy, a spokeswoman for Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, said the office requests bail in almost every gun case. But often defendants post the amount the court sets and a number do get released without bail, she said.
The NYPD tactics to deal with shootings in the city include putting desk cops on patrol as well as moving other officers from administrative offices and other precincts to troubled areas. The strategy seems to be decreasing shootings in parts of Brooklyn like East New York but not in the Bronx, where LiPetri said a backlog of open gun cases in the courts was "very concerning."