DC, New York police ask public’s help to ID suspect in shootings of homeless men

Police in New York and D.C. are looking for a suspect in a string of shootings of homeless men. (Courtesy D.C. police)

Police in D.C. and New York City are asking the public’s help in identifying the suspect in a string of attacks on homeless men.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and New York City Mayor Eric Adams released new photos during a joint news conference Monday in D.C. The photos were taken recently, D.C. police Chief Robert Contee said.

A reward of up to $70,000 from D.C. and New York City police, as well as from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is being offered for information about the suspect. Police departments in both cities, along with the ATF, are investigating the attacks.

“Someone knows this person. We’re asking the public to find him,” Adams said, adding that he does not want to lose another resident in D.C., New York or anywhere else.

Adams called the attacks a “premeditated act of shooting innocent people” and a “coldblooded attack.”

Contee described the suspect as a “depraved person who’s targeting our unhoused residents.”

“Our reach is far and wide, and we’re coming for you,” Contee said speaking directly to the gunman.

Investigators have matched the attacks based, in part, on ballistics evidence.

“What we know is that guns have been involved in scenes in New York and D.C., and that they have been matched ballistically,” Bowser said on Bloomberg TV earlier.

Contee also credited D.C. police officer Kevin Kentish, a native of Queens, who was scrolling through social media and saw an image of the New York suspect and reviewed the image with his team.

Earlier Monday, D.C. police released video footage of a suspect in the three attacks in D.C., which took place earlier this month.

In the most recent attack on March 9, police responding to a small fire near New York Avenue and 4th Street Northeast found the remains of a man with gunshot wounds and stab wounds.

He has not yet been identified.

Another man was shot and wounded with non-life-threatening injuries on March 8 in the 1700 block of H Street Northeast. The first known attack came in the early-morning hours of March 3 in the 1100 block of New York Avenue, where police found a man with gunshot wounds, who was then taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Contee said this attack did not necessarily raise a flag because it was the first, and that the person was not sure why he was shot and thought it was related to someone trying to rob him.

The New York City attacks came this past weekend when two men were shot in the span of 12 hours Saturday, one fatally.

Adams said the attacks highlight the “overproliferation of firearms in our cities” and the need to stop the flow of guns on the streets.

Over the weekend, a joint statement from D.C. and New York police said: “Given the similarity in the modus operandi of the perpetrator, common circumstances involved in each shooting, circumstances of the victims and recovered evidence, the NYPD, the MPDC and the ATF will jointly investigate these offenses.”

Ahead of the news conference Monday, D.C. police officers from the Fifth District passed out fliers of the suspect in Northeast D.C., along New York Avenue.

New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said those who experiencing homelessness “face challenges every day just to survive.”

Bowser and Adams are asking unhoused residents in their cities to find shelter. “We know this is a scary situation,” Bowser said.

Both Bowser and Adams have taken criticism for their handling of a homelessness crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last summer, Bowser’s administration launched a pilot program to clear homeless encampments.

Last month, Adams began making an aggressive push to bar people from sleeping on subway trains or riding the same lines all night in a bid to remove homeless people from the city’s subway system.

“We know this pandemic has upended a lot of our systems, our homeless system being one of them,” Bowser said. “But for our residents, it’s safe to go into shelter. We have shelter capacity to welcome them, and we want to get them off the streets. We know that it’s not good for people to live in tents and it’s not good for the community.”

Anyone with information on the shootings or the suspect should call D.C. police at 202-727-9099.

WTOP staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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