Police are saying the same suspect carried out five shootings of homeless people in two separate cities. Two of the victims died.
Washington, D.C. and New York City police departments have opened a joint investigation of the shootings, along with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The shootings all took place in March, with the latest occurring in the early hours of Saturday morning in New York City, targeting two homeless men sleeping on the street.
At around 4:30 a.m., a 38-year-old male in the SoHo neighbourhood was shot in the arm and has since been listed in stable condition. About 90-minutes later and 10 blocks away, a second victim in a sleeping bag was shot in the head and neck, and pronounced dead at the scene when police found the body after responding to a call around 5 p.m.
Both men were shot without provocation, according to police.
Similar shootings of the homeless occurred in Washington in the early hours of March 3, 8 and 9. The first two shootings led to non-life-threatening injuries, but the third resulted in death from multiple stab and gunshot wounds. The third victim was found inside a burning tent.
Police have shared images of the suspect on social media and are asking for the public’s help in finding him. Washington police are offering up to $25,000 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction, while ATF is offering an additional $25,000.
The suspect is seen in New York wearing all black, a balaclava and blue surgical gloves while holding a gun.
“The case is a clear and horrific intentional act of taking the life of someone, it appears, because he was homeless,” Mayor Eric Adams said at a news conference Saturday. “Two individuals were shot while sleeping on the streets, not committing a crime but sleeping on the streets.”
Adams said a task force of police and homeless outreach officials will find unhoused people in subways and other locations in New York and urge them to go to city-run shelters.
— with a file from The Associated Press