A black-clad assailant is suspected of shooting five homeless people in Washington, D.C., and New York City over the past two weeks in what police in both cities called targeted attacks. Two of the victims — one in each city — died.
A lone male is responsible for all of the attacks, which took place between March 3 and March 12, police said. All involved a similar “modus operandi” and “common circumstances,” the two police departments said in a joint statement Sunday.
The most recent attacks took place in the early hours of Saturday, when the gunman approached two homeless men sleeping on the street in New York. One man was shot in the arm around 4:30 a.m. The other was shot in the head and neck about an hour later, and was pronounced dead when police were called to investigate later that day.
There were three shootings in Washington between March 3 and March 9. Investigators said they were called to a reported tent fire on March 9 and found a man dead at the scene. An autopsy showed he had been shot and stabbed multiple times.
Officials have not released the names of any of the victims.
“Our homeless population is one of our most vulnerable and an individual praying on them as they sleep is an exceptionally heinous crime,” New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said in a statement. “We will use every tool, every technique and every partner to bring the killer to justice.”
The investigation is being conducted jointly by the NYPD and the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, as well as the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Investigators said they hadn’t determined a motive.
New York Mayor Eric Adams said the attacks were “horrific” and appealed for help in finding the assailant.
“Two people were shot while sleeping on the streets. Not committing a crime, but sleeping on the streets,” Adams said at a news conference. “We need to find this person, and we need New Yorkers to help us.”