More than 40 shooting incidents have taken place in New York City on the July 4th weekend, killing at least nine people, local authorities said Monday.
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) confirmed that from Friday to Sunday, 63 people were shot in 44 incidents, leading to at least nine fatalities.
According to the NYPD, the majority of the shootings occurred between late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, killing three people and injuring 34 others.
The NYPD released its citywide crime report for June on Monday, showing that there were 205 shooting incidents the previous month, a 130.3-percent increase from a year ago.
Meanwhile, 528 shootings were recorded citywide in the first six months this year, compared with 362 a year ago, the report showed.
“The sharp increase in shootings and violence in New York puts innocent people at risk and tears at the fabric of life in our city,”
said New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea in the report.
The NYPD is also facing challenges, including deep budget cuts and a surge of retirements, according to the report.
Facing mounting pressure from protesters who call for “defunding the police,” New York City slashed 1 billion U.S. dollars from the NYPD budget for the fiscal year 2021, and diverted the funding to youth and social services.
In an interview with local news channel NY1 on Monday, Shea blamed the surge in gun violence on the city’s efforts to decrease the population on Rikers Island, where a notorious jail complex is located with some 10,000 beds.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of prisoners have been released from the jail to avoid the clustering of infections.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that a number of reasons have contributed to the spike in shootings, including coronavirus-led court closures, economic damages, and that “people have been pent up for months and months.”
He said he would talk to community leaders on how to deploy police and the approaches they take, among other topics.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also said
he is “very concerned” about the rising number of shootings in the city.
“And again, it’s the communities that in many ways need the most, pay the highest price,” said Cuomo at his briefing.
Cuomo said the state police is working with the NYPD, while the state’s and New York City’s criminal justice personnel will talk about possible measures to contain the rise of gun violence.
Meanwhile, the July Fourth weekend has seen COVID-19 cases surge in a number of U.S. states and authorities rise to tighten up measures to curb the spread of the virus.
However, U.S. President Donald Trump continued his attempt to downplay the threat of the coronavirus in his speech marking Independence Day.
On Saturday, Trump said in his remarks that 99 percent of coronavirus cases in America “are totally harmless” — a dangerously misleading claim which U.S. experts say contains no evidence.
The U.S. death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic passed 130,000 Monday with a total of over 2.9 million infections, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.