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Latest Round Of Gun Violence In New York City Leads To War Of Words Between Officials, State Court System

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The city is contending with another rash of gun violence, after more than a dozen shootings were reported from Monday into Tuesday.

Now, city officials are placing the blame on each other and the state's court system, CBS2's Thalia Perez reported.

Two young women were the latest shooting victims across the five boroughs. Fortunately, both suffering non-life threatening injuries during the early morning incident in the Morrisania section of the Bronx.

But the discussion on the uptick in crime has lawmakers pointing fingers and neighbors wondering when it's all going to end.

"I'm afraid to walk, but I have to walk," one woman said.

Neighbors on Prospect Avenue woke up to crime scene tape and street closures as detectives canvassed the block investigating the shooting.

"It's scary, but there's nothing we can do about it at all, and it's a shame," Victoria Rivera said.

Police said the incident happened just before 1 a.m. A man stopped his car in front of 1390 Prospect Ave., jumped out and opened fire into a group of people, hitting the two women. A 21-year-old suffered a wound to her leg, and a 19-year-old was grazed on the foot. An officer who was nearby fired a round back at the fleeing car.

"It's not safe around here, especially with these young kids," a lifelong are resident named Gladys said.

The shooting was one of 13 that took place in the previous 24 hours, bringing the year-to-date numbers to 1,002 incidents. Not all victims have been as fortunate as the two women involved in the Morrisania incident.

However, the question remains: Who is to blame for the gun violence in the city? Everyone seems to be pointing fingers at one another, with Mayor Bill de Blasio putting the blame on our court system, saying the city can't stop shootings without consequences.

"Our court system is just not functioning and it is moving at a snail's pace compared to the rest of the state," de Blasio said Tuesday. "In all the rest of New York state, 40 trials per month on average; in New York City, only seven trials per month. It makes no sense."

The mayor spent another day taking aim at the courts, saying the pandemic is no longer an excuse for the delay in bringing cases to trial, especially for violent crimes. He added that courts in the city are lagging behind their suburban counterparts, CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.

"If there's no trials, there's no consequences, that doesn't help us stop crime. That's the whole reason why we have a criminal justice system to begin with," de Blasio said.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea echoed those sentiments.

"It's going to be one of the great failures, that we couldn't figure out how to keep the courts open and chugging along. It's public safety. It's at the heart of public safety," Shea said.

But the New York State Court System countered that argument by saying the mayor is shifting the blame for this one. In a statement, Lucian Chalfen, the deputy director of public information, said, "The court system has been back at full strength -- with all judges and staff fully back in person in the courthouses since May. Trials are being held, but for cases to be tried, you need the prosecution and defense to have their cases prepared, which isn't occurring in a number of counties."

Chalfen also said the number of trials have been slashed to allow for social distancing.

Stan German, the executive director of New York County Defender Services, added, "Every single day my lawyers are getting their video conferences cancelled by the Department of Correction, meaning we can't communicate with our clients. They don't have the staffing to escort our clients from their holding cell to the video booth."

German said chaos at Rikers Island, where detainees have died and which suffers from severe staff shortages, has created a much bigger problem.

"Every day in the courts people are not being produced for their court visits. Why? Because they don't have enough staffing to bring all the people from Rikers Island," German said.

CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas and Thalia Perez contributed to this report.

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