5 shot after 'cold-blooded killer' targeted homeless men in Washington DC, New York City

NEW YORK — Officials in New York and Washington are looking for "a cold-blooded killer" who police say has targeted people experiencing homelessness in a string of recent shootings, including two that were fatal.

Since March 3, at least five homeless men have been shot in New York City and Washington, D.C., leaving at least one man in each city dead.

"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," Mayors Eric Adams of New York and Muriel Bowser of Washington said in a joint statement Sunday night.

Police in both cities are working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to investigate the shootings.

NYPD said the departments will jointly investigate given the similar circumstances of the shootings, evidence recovered and "information from ATF's National Integrated Ballistic Information Network."

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Shootings begin in Washington DC

The spate of attacks began March 3 in Washington when police responded to a man experiencing homelessness who was injured with a gunshot wound in the northeast section of the city around 4 a.m. His injuries were not life threatening and he was taken to a hospital, police said.

Five days later, another homeless man was wounded in a shooting around 1:20 a.m., just over a mile from the scene of the first, district police said. His injuries were also non-fatal.

The next day, March 9, a police officer in the same area of the city saw a tent on fire around 2:50 a.m. Firefighters put the blaze out, and police discovered the remains of a man with multiple stab and gunshot wounds. An autopsy report ruled the death was a homicide, police said.

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Days after last DC attack, 2 men in New York shot

On March 12 in New York's SoHo neighborhood, a man, 38, sleeping on the street was shot in his right forearm around 4:30 a.m., NYPD Deputy Chief Hank Saunter said in a news conference Saturday. Saunter said the man woke up and screamed, "What are you doing?" before the suspect ran away.

Later in the day, about a mile away, police received a call about a man who had suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Witnesses told police they heard gunshots around 6 a.m., and the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Video of the second shooting in New York shows the suspect approaching the man, kicking him several times as he looks around the street, then opening fire. Saunter said there was no indication the suspect made any statements to the victims.

Police ask public for help identifying the suspect

Police released photos of the suspect showing him wearing dark clothing. In one photo, the man appears to be bald. Police provided no other details about the suspect, but asked the public for helping, offering combined awards up to $55,000 from district police, NYPD and ATF.

A joint investigation with @NYPDnews leads to a suspect sought in at least 5 shooting incidents involving homeless victims in DC & NYC. Both departments are investigating these incidents jointly, along with our partnership with @ATFHQ.

Release: https://t.co/d6TERejwowpic.twitter.com/niJagm34LL

— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) March 14, 2022

"From the first incident, the Metropolitan Police has spared no resource in our efforts to identify the suspect behind these cowardly acts," said Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee. "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."

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NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell added: "Our homeless population is one of our most vulnerable and an individual preying 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."

Adams, who called the crimes "horrific" on Saturday, recently released plans to address both gun violence and homelessness in New York City.

"The work to get this individual off our streets before he hurts or murders another individual is urgent," Adams and Bowser said jointly. "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."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Homeless shooting: 2 killed, 3 injured in New York City, Washington DC

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