Homelessness doesn’t only change a person’s life, it puts it at risk. As families nestle in the comfort of their cozy homes, somewhere a vagrant stretched out on a park bench is trying to survive the elements. The homeless have no walls to protect them from the dangers of the darkness.
As a result, their death rate is three to four times higher than average and they can shave thirty years off of their normal life expectancy. But this is only if they aren’t prematurely murdered in their sleep, which has become a bit of a problem.
Authorities in Washington D.C. and New York City are searching for a lone gunman with some sort of a grudge against the homeless population. The gunman has been hunting down homeless men sleeping in the streets and filling them full of bullet holes. In less than two weeks he’s killed two and wounded three others and it’s feared there might be more as of yet undiscovered bodies.
The Mayors of both cities have pleaded with the public to help them find this guy before he strikes again. The killer began his spree in D.C. before heading north to NYC so the question remains whether he’s still there or if he’s moved to yet another city where his presence is unexpected.
Surveillance photos have been released to the public, including a clear closeup of the killer’s face, but so far no one has stepped forward to identify him. Aiming his words straight at the gunman, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert J. Contee said, “Our reach is far and wide, and we’re coming for you.”
Collectively speaking at a news conference, D.C.s Mayor Muriel Bowser and NYCs Mayor Eric Adams urged street people in both cities to seek refuge at a city shelter. However, the chance of any of their words reaching their intended targets via a televised news broadcast is zilch.
Bowser said, “We know that our unsheltered residents already face a lot of daily dangers and it is unconscionable that anybody would target this vulnerable population.” Volunteers have been distributing flyers to the homeless with photos of the suspect as they are being urged to “be vigilant.”
Mayor Adams said police and homeless outreach groups have already hit the streets of NYC to spread the word. They’re combing through subway stations and other popular sleeping locations.
The policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless in NYC, Jacquelin Simone, said this latest string of violence only fortifies the urgency to do better at housing the homeless.
“The reason that these people were attacked is [sic] because they didn’t have that safety of permanent housing. And that’s why we really need to use these tragedies as an opportunity to redouble our efforts to ensure that people have a better option than the streets where they’re exposed to both the elements as well as people who might wish to do them harm.”
All of the shootings took place in the wee hours of the morning with the first one happening on March 3 when a sleeping man was rudely awoken by a bullet penetrating his arm.
The second attack was on March 8 and also didn’t result in death. The third time was the charm when the gunman’s aim improved. When firefighters extinguished a burning tent they found a dead man inside. Not only had the man been shot and then burned by the flames, but he had also received multiple stab wounds.
This is when the killer hightailed it to NYC where he shot a guy in his arm while he’d been sleeping on a sidewalk in Manhattan. Ninety minutes later he showed up in SoHo where he shot his sleeping victim in the head on Lafayette Street.
Nobody knows when and where this killer with no known motive will claim his next victim, but in all likelihood, he’s relocated to another major city where his handiwork will soon reveal itself.