NYC crime: Gunman sought in shootings of 5 homeless men in New York City, Washington, D.C.

TRIBECA, Manhattan (WABC) — A search was underway Monday for a gunman who has been stalking homeless men sleeping on the streets of New York City and Washington, DC, fatally shooting two people and wounding three more in less than two weeks.

The NYPD says the suspect shot a homeless man while he slept and killed another homeless man in Manhattan Saturday morning.

The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington DC announced Sunday night they are looking for the same man, who is wanted for three incidents in the city’s northeast section between March 3 and March 9.

Police released surveillance photographs of the suspected gunman, including one in which the hooded man can be seen holding a pistol in a blue glove.

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The killer’s motive — if any — is unknown, and authorities turned their attention Monday to trying to offer what protections they could to homeless people who might become targets.

Surveillance video from Howard Street in New York City’s Chinatown shows the gunman kicking one of his victims and looking around before opening fire around 6 am Saturday.

The victim lay there all day before someone discovered him dead around 5 pm in the bitter cold.

Another homeless man was shot Saturday at King and Varick streets but survived.

Meantime, the death of a 43-year-old homeless man in Tribeca Sunday night 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 man was the victim of a crime.

Detectives will wait for the autopsy before making a final determination, but it believed to be an overdose.

Regarding the shootings targeting homeless men, Mayor Eric Adams and Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a joint statement, saying,

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.”

Advocates for the homeless say more needs to be done to protect the vulnerable population.

“The demonization of people without homes and the vilification and criminalization of people in deep poverty fuels these types of tragedies,” Coalition for the Homeless Policy Director Jacquelyn Simone said. “Without housing, it’s very difficult for people to get back on their feet, manage substance use and mental illness, and any other challenges they are facing and we do see people decompensate on the street.”

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The NYPD issued new patrol guidance Sunday following the New York City incidents.

Officers in an internal memo were instructed to “proactively engage with apparently homeless individuals,” conduct wellness checks, and offer shelter services.

Police are asking anyone who has seen the suspect in the surveillance video to contact the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit tips by visiting the CrimeStoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org or by messaging on Twitter @NYPDTips.

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