A 4-year-old girl who was buying toys and two women, one of whom was a tourist, were in the area of West 44th Street and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan on Saturday evening when they were struck by bullets meant for someone else. They are expected to survive, but the suspect was still at large as of Monday afternoon.
New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Saturday that two to four men began arguing in the area when one pulled out a gun and began shooting. "It appears at this time the three individuals that are shot are not known to each other and it appears that all three are innocent bystanders," Shea said at the time.
Speaking to the New York Post following the shooting, the little girl’s aunt, 16-year-old Danae Romero, asked: "What if he ends up hurting some more people? ‘Cause if he’s able to do it in a place where there’s so much people like Times Square and not care, what’s going to stop him from doing it again?"
When confronted with this question on Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Saturday’s events were "unacceptable" and the suspect would "be found and found soon."
"We got to understand there are some individuals who do the wrong thing. And there's still too many guns available to too many people and that needs policing solutions and community solutions, but also needs a change in Washington," he said. "The answer is, bring back jobs, bring back activities, and keep refining our policing strategies. There’s no question in my mind, as the city comes back, that's going to help us to reduce crime and violence."
The Democratic mayor said he does not think the shooting will impact tourism.
The New York Law Enforcement Labor Coalition of unions representing city police officers of all ranks said in a tweet that it believes Saturday’s shootings served as "a message to the politicians whose laws and attitudes have made this city unsafe."
"New York used to be the nation’s safest big city," it wrote. "Not anymore."
Hank Sheinkopf, a spokesperson for the New York Law Enforcement Labor Coalition, told Fox News on Monday that coalition members want to do the job they paid and trained to do: "To keep the city safe."
But politicians are hampering their abilities, he said, pointing to the "diaphragm law," which prohibits a police officer or law enforcement agent in New York City from "sitting, kneeling or standing on the chest or back" of a subject "in a manner that compresses the diaphragm," according to the law’s language.
Lawmakers, he said, have "done similar things that have no sense whatsoever. They've incessantly attacked police officers, attack police officers, attacked the police department and its operations, come up with the zaniest and most dangerous ideas on the people. And the people who do not wish the public well got the message -- and they're out on the street shooting at record levels."
Saturday’s Times Square shooting was far from the only violence reported over the weekend.
On Sunday, a 43-year-old man was stabbed in the chest with a screwdriver around 7:50 p.m. while riding the subway through lower Manhattan, police said. According to the New York Post, the victim, who is expected to survive, was visiting from Ecuador and the attack was random. Police told Fox News the suspect, a 26-year-old man, was charged with attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon.
Then, early Monday morning, a 31-year-old man was slashed on the northbound No. 6 train platform of a Harlem subway station, police said. He and three men, who were reportedly believed to be homeless, began arguing around 3:30 p.m. when one of the suspects slashed him in the face, according to police.
All three suspects were arrested, and charges are pending, police said. The victim was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Looking at the weekend as a whole, the New York Police Department (NYPD) reported 16 shootings with 20 victims from Friday to Sunday, compared to the five shootings and five victims reported during the same three-day period last year. The department also reported six murders – up five from the single murder reported year-over-year, police said.
As for Saturday's Times Square shooting, no arrests had been made as of Monday afternoon and sources confirmed to Fox News that the suspect is 31-year-old Farrakhan Muhammad.
Speaking to reporters just hours after the shooting, Shea said police were in the area when the suspect fled and officers "immediately engaged" in trying to track him via video footage.
"How many kids have to be shot before we take this seriously? We just had a one-year-old[‘s] homicide cleared this week. How many more kids do we need to be shot before we realize that bad policies have consequences? And we need action and we need policies, regarding laws, to have consequences for the arrests … I think you’re seeing it play out."
Shea appeared to be speaking about new bail reform policies, which rule that suspects are given desk-appearance tickets if they are being charged with most misdemeanor offenses and even certain kinds of felonies, according to the Center for Court Innovation.
"When is this going to end?" Shea asked.
"How many more people have to be injured, pushed in front of a train, or in this case, a young 4-year-old toy shopping, shot," he added. "We need help with some of these laws … Greatest city in the world, native New Yorker, love it, I remember when this city was very bad. The men and women of this department brought this city back. It is still a safe city. It is a great city. But we need help."