New York, D.C. Police on Hunt for Man Allegedly Killing Homeless People

Police in New York City and Washington, D.C., are conducting a search for a man who has allegedly been stalking and shooting homeless men in the two cities.

Five people have been shot in recent weeks, and two have died from the attacks, the Associated Press reported. "The case is a clear and horrific intentional act of taking the life of someone, it appears, because he was homeless," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said at a news conference Sunday.

Even though New York City and Washington, D.C., are hundreds of miles apart, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said during an appearance on Bloomberg TV on Monday that the gun involved in the shootings has been matched ballistically. Both she and Adams condemned the apparent targeting of people experiencing homelessness in a joint statement posted on Twitter. They later announced a $55,000 reward for the capture of the suspect.

While authorities work to prevent any future attacks by locating the suspect, the two cities are also working on helping homeless individuals find refuge in shelters rather than on the streets.

"As our law enforcement agencies work quickly with federal partners to locate the suspect, we are also calling on unsheltered residents to seek shelter," the statement read. "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."

NY, DC Investigation
A search is underway for a gunman who has been stalking and shooting homeless men sleeping on the streets of Washington, D.C., and New York City. Above, these images taken from surveillance video and provided by the New York Police Department show a man suspected of shooting two homeless people on Saturday, March 12, in New York. New York Police Department via AP

The five shootings have taken place since the beginning of March, with the first three occurring in Washington, D.C., and the most recent two occurring in New York City, according to a news release from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

The first two shootings were on March 3 and March 8, both in the early hours of the morning. The victims in each incident were both adult males, and were taken to hospitals and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The city's third victim did not survive a similar encounter. Authorities discovered a tent fire on March 9, and after the fire had been extinguished, they found the remains of an adult male who "displayed no signs consistent with life and was pronounced deceased," the release said.

An autopsy determined that the cause of death was multiple stab and gunshot wounds, and the incident was ruled a homicide.

Both of the attacks in New York City took place on March 12. The first victim was shot in the arm, while the other suffered wounds to the head and neck and was pronounced dead at the scene, the MPD release said. All of the attacks have been unprovoked and targeted homeless men who were sleeping on the street.

"Given the similarity in the modus operandi of the perpetrator, common circumstances involved in each shooting, circumstances of the victims and recovered evidence, the NYPD, the MPDC and the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives] will jointly investigate these offenses," the release stated.

The agencies investigating the attacks are calling on the public to contact police with any information that may help identify and find the suspect.

"Our homeless population is one of our most vulnerable and an individual praying 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," New York City Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said in a statement.

Newsweek has reached out to the MPD and NYPD for further comment.

Update 03/14/22, 6:18 p.m. ET: This story was updated with additional information and background.