Police have arrested a man over attacks on homeless men that left two dead and three injured across Washington DC and New York City during a 10-day crime spree.
The arrest comes after the Mayors of both New York City and Washington DC released a closeup photograph of the suspect they believe to be responsible for the killings and shootings.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Washington DC’s police department confirmed officers had arrested the suspect in the city on Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast.
‘He is currently being interviewed at our Homicide Branch. Additional information will be forthcoming. Thanks to the community for all your tips,’ the department said in a Tweet.
Crystal clear images of the male suspect’s face were shared on Monday evening in a joint press conference chaired by NYC Mayor Eric Adams and his DC Counterpart Eric Adams, as well as their respective police chiefs.
The snap of the suspect – which cops refused to comment on further – but which is suspected to have been taken by an ATM camera – is the clearest image yet of a man now feared to be a serial killer.
Video footage of the suspect strolling down a DC street on March 9 – the evening of the murder in that city – have also been shared. At Monday’s press conference in New York, cops revealed they suspected the same weapon had been used in the shootings in both cities, thanks to forensic examination of cell casings found at the scenes.
The Mayors of New York City and Washington DC have released a closeup photograph of the suspect they believe to be responsible for the killings of five homeless men, two in New York and three in the nation’s capital
In the last month, at least five homeless men have been shot – two of them fatally – and one has been found dead in what police fear may be a string of attacks by the same person
A reward of $70,000 was also made available as law enforcement agencies in both cities work flat out to catch the man with $25,000 coming from the NYPD, $25,000 from Washington’s police force and a further $20,000 from the ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, speaking in NYC, warned the killer: ‘We’re coming for you.’
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert J. Contee echoes the mayor’s comments. ‘Our reach is far and wide, and we’re coming for you,’ he said.
The D.C. attacks were on March 3, March 8 and March 9. The third was fatal; the victim was found in a burning tent, having been shot and stabbed to death. During Monday’s press conference, investigators said they believe the victims were given no warning, and that the killer attacked them without speaking.
After the DC shootings, the suspect is then believed to have struck in New York City over the weekend. One homeless man was shot while he slept in Soho during the early hours of Saturday, March 12 while a second was shot and escaped with his life after waking up.
‘Homelessness should not be a homicide. This was a cold blooded attack when you look at the premeditated action of this shooting. It sends a clear, loud message that we need help from the public, from the NYPD, MPCD and ATF,’ Mayor Eric Adams said.
Several clear images were released of the map whom police believe is responsible
‘Someone knows this person. We’re asking for the public to find him. We don’t want to lose another resident in this city, in New York or anywhere else. This person is carrying out a premeditative act of shooting innocent people.
‘In the shooting in New York he looked around, made sure no-one was there and intentionally took the life of an innocent person. He must be brought to justice. We will bring him to justice. If he’s watching we’re telling him to turn himself in. This is Unacceptable,’ Mayor Adams said.
‘The case also highlights the over proliferation of guns in our cities. It is creating an encounter that’s causing bloodshed across our nation and it is time to top this sick fixation with guns. There are too many guns on our streets. We need to stop the flow of guns to our streets,’ Adams asserted.
‘Washington DC is not manufacturing guns. New York is not a gun manufacturing city but the guns are ending up our streets. It is time to end this.’
Investigators say that ballistic evidence that was found at the scenes of the shootings in both cities links the incidents to a single firearm.
Law enforcement authorities are also asking agencies along the East Coast to see if they have any similar unsolved cases.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams answers a question from a reporter during a news conference about recent shootings of homeless people in both New York and Washington, at the John A. Wilson Building in Washington D.C.
New York Mayor Eric Adams listens as Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser speaks during a news conference
New York Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell speaks during a news conference about the search for a gunman that has been targeting homeless men sleeping on the streets of Washington, and New York City. From left, New York Mayor Eric Adams, Sewell, Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee, and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser
Images from of shell casings that were recovered and examined in both cities were then entered into ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network and suggested that the same weapon had been used in the killings. It also produced leads based on comparisons of the unique markings on the recovered shell casings.
The link between the two sets of killings and shootings was made by Captain Kevin Kentish, Head of the Homicide Unit in Washington DC.
Kintish, who hails from Queens, New York ‘happened to be scrolling through social media and saw the image of the NYC suspect.’
‘During that review, he took that image to his team, based upon the similarities, came together with ATF and forensically connected these cases,’ Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department Robert Contee said.
The killer’s motive remains unknown.
New video footage has been released of the suspect strolling along a street in Washington D.C. has been released
Other images in color show the suspect eating a snack while walking along a street in the nation’s capital
A total of $55,000 has been put up by the Washington DC police force at the ATF. A further $25,000 has been put up by NYPD
Chief Contee III had similarly strong words to Mayor Adams about the perpetrator.
‘This is a depraved individual but I feel the knot is tightening in. We dont know this suspect’s mental health. We don’t know if this person is homeless. But there are certain things we know that suggest this person has already murdered more than one time.’
Mayor Eric Adams and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a joint statement:
‘Our communities in DC and New York City are heartbroken and disturbed by these heinous crimes in which an individual has been targeting some of our most vulnerable residents. The two of us spoke about how our teams can coordinate and help one another, and we are calling on everyone in our cities to look at the images of the suspect and report any information, however small, that may be useful.
‘The work to get this individual off our streets before he hurts or murders another individual is urgent. The rise in gun violence has shaken all of us and it is particularly horrible to know that someone is out there deliberately doing harm to an already vulnerable population. As our law enforcement agencies work quickly with federal partners to locate the suspect, we are also calling on unsheltered residents to seek shelter.
‘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.’
On Monday, homeless men and women on the streets of New York City have said they would prefer to sleep on the streets instead of heading to a homeless shelter, despite the lingering threat of a serial killer on the loose.
The Mayors of New York City and Washington DC are advising those living on the street to seek to seek shelter in public facilities to avoid the suspect who they believe has shot at least five homeless men in the last month, killing two.
DailyMail.com spoke to several people living on the streets. Many did not seem thrilled at the idea of spending in the night in a homeless shelter rather than a doorway or even a subway station.
‘There’s a lot of sick people out there but I’d prefer to be on the street instead a shelter. There’s more freedom. I can do what I want when I want,’ said Daren, a homeless man sitting outside Penn Station.
‘There’s a lot of sick people out there but I’d prefer to be on the street instead a shelter. There’s more freedom. I can do what I want when I want,’ said Daren, a homeless man sitting outside Penn Station in Manhattan
‘I spend the night on corners. I am not afraid. People are not usually aggressive,’ Marie said firmly to DailyMail.com Monday
Darrius Carr a homeless man said that he stays in a shelter in Uptown Manhattan and feels perfectly safe
J’ai Muhammed who normally sleeps in a subway station overnight suggested the mayor should see for himself what it is like to be living on the streets
It was a view echoed by Marie who was also sitting on some steps outside the Post Office in Midtown.
‘I spend the night on corners. I am not afraid. People are not usually aggressive,’ she said firmly to DailyMail.com.
Darius Carr, another man who has been homeless for about one year said that he felt safe going to a shelter uptown each night.
J’ai Muhammed who normally sleeps in a subway station overnight said the mayor should see for himself what it is like to be living on the streets.
‘Maybe the mayor should try being homeless for the night so he can see how it feels either on the street or in a shelter,’ he suggested.
Police are looking for a man (pictured) who shot two homeless men in Manhattan within hours of one another, killing one
Detectives with the NYPD searching for a suspect who shot and killed a homeless man while he slept have now widened their investigation after a spread of eerily similar incidents in Washington D.C. The wanted suspect is pictured in the capital following the second attack
The serial killer most recently struck in the early hours of Saturday morning, killing one homeless man and shooting another in the arm within a period of just one hour.
A third New York City homeless man who was found dead in Tribeca does not appear connected to the shootings.
There was no indication of criminality, and an extensive video canvass did not turn up any evidence that the 43-year-old man was the victim of a crime.
Detectives are waiting for the autopsy before making a final determination, but it is believed that the man died from an overdose.
Earlier this month, three homeless men were shot and killed in separate attacks in Washington DC. Police now believe that the three DC men- and one New York City man who was shot on Saturday – were all targeted by the same person.
As NYPD officers work to catch the suspected serial killer, Mayor Eric Adams and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser are telling homeless people to seek shelter urgently.
DailyMail.com obtained an internal memo that the NYPD sent out to precincts alerting cops about the pre-dawn attacks on homeless men in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., noting that ‘in all incidents, victims were sleeping in a public space during the first platoon.’
Officers were directed to immediately survey their patrol areas and engage with homeless individuals, advise them about the incidents and show them wanted flyers with pictures of the person of interest, while also checking on their well-being and offering shelter and other services.
‘Members assigned to the Patrol Services Bureau precincts area to conduct frequent grid canvasses of their assigned sector or area of deployment, utilizing a systematic block by block method,’ the memo adds. ‘Special attention should be given to areas prone to encampment.’
NYPD officers at the scene where another homeless person was found dead on Murray Street near Varick Street in New York on Sunday night. The death is believed to be an overdose and not connected to the other NY and DC killings
Washington DC Metro Police and the NYPD have issued a joint statement saying they believe the same suspect is behind multiple attacks on homeless men in both cities that have, so far, left three victims dead
In a joint statement on Sunday night, the pair said: ‘Our communities in DC and New York City are heartbroken and disturbed by these heinous crimes in which an individual has been targeting some of our most vulnerable residents.
March 3: Homeless man is shot in DC but survives
March 8: Second homeless man shot in DC but survives
March 9: Third homeless man found in DC. His body is found inside a tent, on fire. Autopsy confirms he was shot and stabbed
NEW YORK CITY
March 12, 4.30am: Homeless man shot in the arm on King Street, NYC.
He woke up and confronted the shooter, asking him: ‘What the hell are you doing?’
March 12, 5pm: After receiving a 911 call, cops find homeless man dead inside his sleeping bag at 148 Lafayette Street.
Surveillance footage shows he was shot nearly 12 hours earlier at 6am.
‘The two of us spoke about how our teams can coordinate and help one another, and we are calling on everyone in our cities to look at the images of the suspect and report any information, however small, that may be useful.
‘The work to get this individual off our streets before he hurts or murders another individual is urgent.
‘As our law enforcement agencies work quickly with federal partners to locate the suspect, we are also calling on unsheltered residents to seek shelter.’
Many asked where exactly they expect the homeless to go.
In New York City, there are estimated to be around 93,000 homeless people and around 1,618 in DC.
Cops in NYC have surveillance footage of a man, believed to be black and about 5-foot-4, fleeing the scene of his second shooting in the early hours of Saturday.
Meanwhile, cops in DC released images of an unmasked man in dark clothing fleeing the second of three attacks known to have been carried out in that city.
Between the two cities, there have been five shootings, including three homicides. All victims targeted were homeless, although police have yet to outline a motive to explain why the vulnerable men have been targeted.
This comes as the United States faces a huge homelessness crisis, with the pandemic causing a rise in unemployment and a surge in housing costs that left nearly 600,000 Americans with no home in 2020.
Between New York and Washington D.C., there have been a total of five shootings and two homicides.
The Washington shootings happened between March 3 and 8.
On March 3 at 4 a.m., a man was found after police say gunshots were heard on New York Avenue, Northeast. They went to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
It remains unclear how the third victim died. Police believe there was no criminality and that it was likely and overdose
At 1:21 a.m. on March 8, police responded to a shooting in H Street Northeast in DC where they found a man with non-life-threatening injuries having been shot.
The following day, on March 9, around 3 a.m., police in DC saw a fire happening in tent in which a homeless man had been sleeping. After the flames were extinguished investigators found a dead body.
Police believe the man had been murdered after an autopsy revealed gunshot and stab wounds.
The New York attacks began in the early hours of Saturday, when a homeless man was shot in the arm around 4:30 a.m. while asleep in a doorway on King Street in Manhattan.
When the suspect fired at him, he woke up and yelled: ‘What the hell are you doing?’ according to police.
But then the quick-thinking victim then pretended to call 911 as he put his fingers to his ear, despite not having a phone, the New York Daily News reported, fooling the gunman into thinking law enforcement were on their way.
The suspect then ran off into the night, only to find a second unsuspecting homeless man 90 minutes later. That victim, a 33 year-old man, was shot and killed in a SoHo doorway.
The NYPD is now offering a $10,000 reward to anyone who can help them catch the ‘cold-blooded’ killer who shot the two homeless men.
The second victim died after being shot in the head and neck at 6 a.m. on 148 Lafayette Street, opposite the luxury 11 Howard hotel. It took 12 hours for police to realize the man was was dead and recover his lifeless body – riddled with bullet holes – from the bright yellow sleeping bag he’d been in.
In the Lafayette Street killing, the suspect was filmed in chilling surveillance footage wearing a black ski mask and black clothing. He was seen prodding the helpless victim several times before looking around before firing his fatal shots. The man’s age is not known but he was described by police as a Hispanic man.
In an urgent appeal yesterday, Mayor Eric Adams said: ‘Homelessness turning into a homicide. We need to find this person and we need New Yorkers to help us. This is a cold blooded act of murder.’
Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website.
Given the similarity in the perpetrator’s methods, common circumstances involved in each shooting, profiles of the victims and recovered evidence, the NYPD, the MPDC and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will jointly investigate these offenses.
Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said: ‘Our homeless population is one of our most vulnerable and an individual praying on them as they sleep is an exceptionally heinous crime. We will use every tool, every technique and every partner to bring the killer to justice.’
New York City is home to the largest number of homeless people in the U.S., with a surging population that is widely believed to be one contributor behind an uptick in crime over recent months.
Since 2007, overall homelessness in the U.S. has improved by 10 percent, from 647,000 to 580,000, in figures according to CNBC.
But certain subgroups such as individual homelessness have only seen a 1 percent decrease in figures, from 413,000 in 2007 to 409,000 by 2020.
In the first year of the pandemic the numbers got far worse for the unsheltered homeless, with a 30 percent increase from 173,000 in 2015 to 226,000 in 2020.
New York’s spending in attempt to beat homelessness reached an all-time high in 2019 when they pledged $3.2billion, which was double their spend in 2014.
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said: ‘From the first incident, the Metropolitan Police has spared no resource in our efforts to identify the suspect behind these cowardly acts. 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.’
ATF Director Marvin Richardson added: ‘Our Washington and New York City field offices have been working hand-in-hand with the DC metropolitan police and the New York Police Department from the outset. One of these shootings occurred within blocks of our Washington DC headquarters.
‘We have used our advanced ATF systems to conduct real-time analysis backed up by our ATF National Lab in Maryland to expedite the evidence and assist in the investigations and Washington DC and New York City. Our three agencies are one team.’
Video shows the suspect walking up to the homeless man and kicking him several times before taking out his weapon
The suspect can be seen looking around to see if anyone was watching before carrying out the horrific act
After prodding the man with his foot several times, the suspect walked up to homeless man and shot him dead
‘Homelessness turning into a homicide,’ Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference on Saturday night.
‘I believe that’s what makes this case so horrific, watching the video, watching the individual intentionally walk up to innocent people that are dealing with the challenges of homelessness – and it’s quite possible that one of our citizens is still alive merely because he woke up,’ Adams said.
‘Homelessness turning into a homicide. We need to find this person and we need New Yorkers to help us,’ Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference on Saturday night.
‘And I’m here today to send a very clear message, that all New Yorkers matter.’
‘Two individuals were shot while sleeping on the streets, not committing a crime but sleeping on the streets,’ said the mayor with an air of disbelief.
Chief Hank Saunter added: ‘We’re talking about two individuals that are homeless.
‘The most vulnerable population in the city right now.’
The US has a system of temporary shelters that reaches homeless people in need of a place to stay, but many still sleep on sidewalks, subway trains, vehicles or parks, and other locations not designated for the purpose of housing people.
These people who are unsheltered are amongst the most vulnerable, since they are so exposed to the elements and stripped of common safety measures.
Those killed in the spree of unprovoked attacks on homeless people in New York and Washington in recent weeks were all unsheltered.
Police said that they will be out in droves trying to get men and women sleeping on the streets to head to a city shelter for their safety.
In a separate incident, two Museum of Modern Art employees were stabbed by a crazed former member yesterday.
The man had just had his membership revoked, according to the authorities. In what police believe was an attempt at retaliation, he went to the museum Sunday and stabbed two female employees.
The brutal killing comes as the city is reeling from a February crime wave that saw a nearly 60 percent spike in incidents from this same period last year.
The city’s latest crime figures show 9,138 incidents in February, as opposed to 5,759 during the same period in 2021 – with double-digit surges in nearly every major category.
There were 32 murders in February, three more than the same month last year.
One of the men was shot at 54 King Street, pictured above (file photo). It is a quiet, residential street in SoHo
The second man was shot and killed at 148 Lafayette Street (file photo). The location is next door to the expensive 11 Howard hotel
During the month of February, the NYPD reported a 58.7 percent increase in total crime. The latest figures showed 9,138 incidents as opposed to 5,759 in 2021 – with double-digit surges in nearly every major category
Multiple other categories saw shocking jumps, including car theft, which soared by nearly 105 percent; grand larceny, which jumped nearly 80 percent over the previous year; robberies, which surged 56 percent; a 44 percent bump in burglaries and a 22 percent spike in assaults. Rapes also saw a terrifying 35 percent rise in February.
The crime wave comes during Adams’ first few months in office. The former NYPD cop has vowed to crack down on the influx of incidents on the city’s streets and subway system – which has seen a rash of violent incidents in recent weeks. Former Mayor Bill De Blasio’s policies contributed to the current crime wave, experts said.
In response to the crime wave, Adams pleaded with lawmakers in Albany recently to consider a controversial bail reform law that would allow judges to consider whether a person is dangerous before releasing them from jail.
Adams wants to see changes in bail reform laws and other criminal justice measures, saying they will bring down crime rates in the city and reduce gun violence.
In February, Adams, who campaigned last year on getting people to get back to work amid the Covid pandemic and cleaning up the crime-ridden subway system, outlined his plans for city bail laws, which can allow for suspects to roam the streets often within hours of an arrest.
‘Let’s remove the cash bail system, because one should not be able to get out of jail just because you can pay bail. Let’s take that away. Judges should look at the case in front of them and say, ‘This person has two gun arrests, and he’s continually saying to the people of the city that I don’t care about the safety of you,” the mayor said.
‘That judge should have the right to make the discretion that this person just be held.’
In January 2020, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 580,466 people were reported to be experiencing homelessness in the US, with most of that figure made up of individuals, 70 percent, and the rest people living in families with children.
For Washington DC this time last year, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a report which found that Washington state experienced one of the largest estimated increases in homelessness between 2019 and 2020 relative to other states.
The state reported an increase in homelessness of 6.2 percent, which equates to 1,346 people, between 2019 and 2020.
This is the third largest increase among all US States, as reported by The Seattle Times.
Around 20% of all sheltered homeless people in the US are living in New York City, which is the highest rate across the US.
Across the US, the rate of homeless people is 17 per 10,000, but in New York City, Washington DC and Boston, the homeless rate is well above 100 per 10,000 people.
Washington reported a 20 percent increase in family homelessness between 2019 and 2020 which was one of the biggest increases nationwide.
In October 2021, Seattle committed $48 million to build 165 apartments to house some of it’s 12,000 homeless people in October.
Seattle’s homeless population had grown form around 11,000 in 2020 to 12,000 in 2021, when the city built the new housing units.
The same was seen in San Francisco, which has spent $667 million on its Department of Homeless and Supportive Housing. The city recorded about 8,000 homeless people in 2021, a 17 per cent increase from the last count in 2017.
In Austin, Texas, the city allocated $68 million last year for homelessness assistance, Austin saw its homeless population grow from 3,024 in 2019 to nearly 3,200 in 2020.