New York crime: Gunman wanted in shooting of 5 homeless men in New York, Washington, DC

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TRIBECA, Manhattan (WABC) — A search was underway Monday for a gunman who was stalking homeless people sleeping on the streets of New York City and Washington, DC, killing two people and injuring three others in less than two weeks.

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

The Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department announced Sunday evening that it was looking for the same man, wanted in connection with three incidents in the northeast section of the city between March 3 and March 9.

Investigators believe ballistic evidence found at the scene of the shootings in the two cities links the incidents to a single firearm, law enforcement sources told ABC News. Images of casings recovered and examined in both cities were entered into the ATF’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network and produced leads based on comparisons of the unique markings on recovered casings.

Now a $70,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest – $25,000 in New York, $25,000 in DC and $20,000 from the ATF.

DC Police Department Homicide Unit Chief Capt. Kevin Kentish is credited with linking the New York and DC incidents.

Kintish, from Queens, New York, “turned out to be browsing social media and saw the image of the New York City suspect,” Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee said. “During this review, he took this image to his team, based on the similarities, met with the ATF and connected these cases forensically.”

WATCH | NYPD and DC officials discuss shootings of homeless men

Police have released surveillance photographs of the alleged shooter, including one that shows the hooded man holding a gun in a blue glove and another clear of his face.

The killer’s motive – if any – is unknown, and authorities focused Monday on trying to offer possible protections to homeless people who might become targets.

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

The victim lay there all day before someone discovered him dead around 5 p.m. in the freezing cold.

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

Meanwhile, the death of a 43-year-old homeless man in Tribeca on Sunday night does not appear to be related to the shooting.

There were no indications of criminality and a lengthy video revealed no evidence the man had been the victim of any crime.

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

READ ALSO | 3-year-old girl injured when emotionally disturbed man overturns shopping cart in unprovoked assault in Queens: NYPD

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

Our DC and New York communities are heartbroken and troubled by these heinous crimes in which an individual targets some of our most vulnerable residents. We both talked about how our teams can coordinate and help each other, and we’re calling on everyone in our cities to look at the footage of the suspect and report any information, however small, that might be helpful. The work to get this individual off our streets before he injures or murders another individual is urgent. The rise in gun violence has shaken us all and it is particularly horrific to know that someone is deliberately harming an already vulnerable population. While our law enforcement is working quickly with federal partners to locate the suspect, we are also calling on unhoused residents to seek shelter. Again, it is heartbreaking and tragic to know that on top of all the dangers facing unprotected residents, we now have a cold-blooded killer on the loose, but we are confident that we will get the suspect out of the street and take him into custody..”

Homeless advocates say more needs to be done to protect the vulnerable population.

“The demonization of the homeless and the defamation and criminalization of those in deep poverty fuel these kinds of tragedies,” said Jacquelyn Simone, director of the Coalition for the Homeless Policy. “Without housing it’s very difficult for people to get back on their feet, deal with substance use and mental illness, and whatever other challenges they face and we see people decompensating on the streets.”

The NYPD issued new patrol guidelines on Sunday following the New York incidents.

In an internal memo, officers were instructed to “proactively engage with people who appear to be homeless”, conduct wellness checks and offer accommodation services.

Police are asking anyone who saw 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 @NYPDTips on Twitter.

READ ALSO | Video shows suspect who attacked and stabbed 2 Museum of Modern Art employees

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