DC police, NYPD, ATF investigating string of shootings, homicides targeting men who are homeless

Five men who are homeless were shot, two of which were killed, in a string of attacks in D.C. and New York that police say were committed by the same suspect.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and New York City Mayor Eric Adams have released a joint statement on Sunday encouraging people without housing to seek shelter after the shootings.

D.C. Police are working alongside the New York City Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) after five separate shootings in Northeast and New York involving men without homes, two of which were fatal.

D.C. police announced that they would be working alongside the NYPD and ATF in an additional news release, acknowledging that similar shootings occurred in New York on March 12.

“As our law enforcement agencies work quickly with federal partners to locate the suspect, we are also calling on unsheltered residents to seek shelter,” the mayors said in a statement. “Again, it is heartbreaking and tragic to know that in addition to all the dangers that unsheltered residents face, we now have a cold-blooded killer on the loose, but we are certain that we will get the suspect off the street and into police custody.”

The string of attacks on this vulnerable population followed calls from advocates for people who are homeless, and the District’s councilmembers for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to pause homeless camp clearing.

These deaths also come amid a push from New York City’s mayor to remove people who are homeless from the subway system and multiple liberal U.S. cities removing camps used by people without homes similar to those in D.C.

Leaders in both major metropolitan areas have guidance to take shelter but have not discussed plans for increased patrols of common encampments or any other mitigating steps.

NYC attacks

One shooting occurred in the 4 a.m. hour on Saturday and involved a 38-year-old male shot in the arm while sleeping on King Street near Varick Street. At around 5:00 pm, New York City police say they received a 911 call regarding an unidentified male with “gunshot wounds to the head and neck.”

That male was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Given the similarity in the modus operandi of the perpetrator, common circumstances involved in each shooting, circumstances of the victims and recovered evidence,” the department said in a joint statement, “the NYPD, the MPDC and the ATF will jointly investigate these offenses.”

MPD is seeking information on this individual they believe is connected to three separate shootings in Northeast. (Photo Metropolitan Police Department)

“We are committed to sharing every investigative path, clue and piece of evidence with our law enforcement partners to bring this investigation to a swift conclusion and the individual behind these vicious crimes to justice,” Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said in the news release.

Mayor Eric Adams of New York held a news conference on Sunday nights, addressing what the city’s police chief called a vulnerable population

“Two individuals were shot while sleeping on the streets, not committing a crime but sleeping on the streets,” Adams said.

D.C. area shootings

The Metropolitan Police Department said these shootings occurred in the Fifth District between March 3 and March 9. MPD released the following photo of the suspect taken from a security camera.

Police said, in a news release, that the suspect targeted men without homes in all three shootings.

According to police, the first shooting took place Thursday, March 3 around 4 a.m. on the 1100 block of New York Avenue, Northeast. Police responding to the scene say they found an adult male victim suffering from gunshot wounds, who was transported to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

On Tuesday, March 8, police responding to a 911 call found another adult male victim with gunshot wounds around 1:21 a.m. on the 1700 block of H Street, Northeast. That victim was also taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

On Wednesday, March 9, MPD responded to a fire on the 400 block of New York Avenue, Northeast. After the fire had been extinguished, the remains of an adult male were found at the location. After displaying no signs of life, the victim was declared dead on the scene.

MPD said a later examination by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has determined the cause of death was homicide by multiple stab and gunshot wounds.

The deceased has not been identified, police said.

MPD asks that anyone who can identify the individual in the photograph, or who has knowledge of this incident, should take no action but call police at (202) 727-9099 or text your tip to the Department’s TEXT TIP LINE at 50411.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for WTOP.com. Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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