NEW YORK (AP) — New York City police are searching for a 15-year-old who they say shot a Brazilian tourist in the leg inside a Times Square sporting goods store, then fired twice at a police officer pursuing him through busy midtown streets before ducking into a subway system.
Police identified the teen in the shooting Thursday evening as a resident of a migrant shelter in Manhattan who arrived in New York from Venezuela late last year. He is also considered a suspect in an armed robbery in the Bronx and a separate shooting in Times Square last month, police said.
“The priority right now for the city and its police department and our federal partners is to get this man off the streets,” NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell said at a news conference Friday afternoon, describing the teenager as “extremely dangerous.”
Police said the shooter, dressed in all white, and two teenage classmates were shoplifting from the sporting goods story shortly after 7 p.m. when they were confronted by a security guard.
After the guard took back the property, the teenager pulled out a .45 caliber handgun and fired at her. The bullet missed the worker, but struck the 37-year-old tourist, who is expected to recover.
The shooter and one of the other teens with him then ran off into the bustling tourist hub. Four blocks away on 47th Street — near a triangular Times Square pedestrian plaza where visitors line up to buy Broadway tickets and snap selfies with the area’s iconic billboards — two officers quickly spotted the pair and took the second person into custody.
The shooter fled toward 6th Avenue with one of the officers giving chase, at one point cutting between buildings. There, he turned and fired at the officer, Chell said.
“Our officer draws his weapon. He cannot fire,” he said at a news conference Thursday evening. “Too many people around, there’s too many people ducking.”
The teen fired again from under his arm and continued to flee, running into a subway station, where he was last seen. Surveillance video showed him going to the tracks and emerging back onto the street, Chell said.
On Friday morning, police apprehended a third suspect, who is 16. Investigators are still working to determine the role of the two people alleged to have entered the store with the shooter.
Chell said the shooter discarded his jacket while fleeing. News footage showed police tape surrounding a white jacket and baseball cap lying in the street across from Radio City Music Hall.
The shooting prompted a huge police presence and search that temporarily closed streets in the area. A reward of as much as $10,000 is being offered for information about the shooter, police said.
The shooting comes on the heels of another high-profile incident in Times Square involving a brawl between migrants and police officers.
Overall, crime rates have plummeted in New York City since a spike at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people shot in the city dropped 39% from 2022 to 2023.
Once one of the seediest places in New York, synonymous with pornographic theaters and sex work, Times Square experienced a revitalization in the 1990s that transformed it into one of the city’s most family-friendly destinations. On most evenings, it is packed with tourists and street performers, though it also still attracts pickpockets and hustlers who take advantage of out-of-towners.
Chell said Times Square remained safe to visitors.
“Take a look around you, thousands of people shopping and walking around,” he said. “We are still the safest city in the world.”