1 Dead, 2 Wounded In Shooting Near Penn Station
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- One man was killed and two others were wounded in a shooting Monday morning just north of Penn Station.
As CBS2's Matt Kozar reported, murder and mayhem erupted in the middle of Midtown just after 6 a.m. Shots rang out at the entrance to the 34th Street-Penn Station A, C and E subway stop, at West 35th Street and Eighth Avenue.
As the evening rush began Monday afternoon, thousands walking to and from work were nervous about what had happened as police continued their search for the gunman.
Heavily armed officers rushed to the subway station entrance after a gunman in a hoodie shot and killed a 43-year-old man and wounded two other men – just as the morning rush was getting under way.
Police said the shooting appeared to be drug-related, and started with a quarrel between the victims and the gunman inside the McDonald's at 490 Eighth Ave., just to the south of the subway entrance.
"There was an argument in the McDonald's here at 490 Eighth Avenue between several individuals who were sitting having coffee when another individual with a black hoodie approached them, made some conversation and then left," NYPD Chief of Manhattan Detectives Robert Boyce told reporters near the crime scene. "Those individuals then walked out of the McDonald's and into the subway station behind us right now."
That same man followed them to the bottom of the subway stairs, pulled out a gun and started shooting, police said. Cops believe four shots were fired.
Witnesses described the scene.
"Bunch of police converging on that area right there," witness Ashton Carter told CBS2's Diane Macedo. "I stayed around a while longer to see what was going on. I saw two people getting carted up into the ambulances."
The victim who was killed was a 43-year-old man, police said. A 45-year-old man was shot in the neck and torso and is in critical condition at Bellevue Hospital Center. A 48-year-old man was shot in the leg and is also being treated at Bellevue.
Joe Ocasio told WCBS 880's Alex Silverman that his brother was the one who was killed.
"He was too good of a man," he said. "He didn't bother nobody. His (13-year-old) son was his life."
"He didn't have a chance to go anywhere," said Tony Ramos, a friend of the victim who died. "The guy just shot him."
Ramos said his family is now struggling to understand how to move forward.
"He was nice, he was a good friend, a good guy," he said. "Always with his son, always gave everything to his son."
A man named Nick said he knows the victims from a methadone clinic a block away, where he said they all go for heroin treatment. The victims often went to the McDonald's before the clinic open, 1010 WINS' Juliet Papa reported.
"He's a really good guy," Nick said. "The other week, we were in the clinic together. He's a good dude."
Clinic patient Thomas Hamet said there are "absolutely" heroin deals happening outside the McDonald's where the quarrel began. He said the McDonald's itself is a popular place to score drugs.
"(Someone says), 'I'll give you $15 for three pills,' you know? And then they'll go in McDonalds, and everyone keeps an eye out while one person is getting some pills out of her pocketbook, or the guy's getting the pills out of his bottle, out of his jacket, out of wherever he's stashing it," Hamet said. "And the other guy is trying to get the money out."
The McDonald's was the subject of a lengthy New York Times article back in July. The article by Kim Barker described scenes of people drinking and taking drugs in the open, and an ambulance coming to take away a regular who was stabbed in a nearby doorway – leaving blood on the sidewalk.
Locals call the Eighth Avenue store the "zombie McDonald's" or even the "junkie McDonald's," the Times report said.
So far this year, police said they have arrested 52 people at the Eighth Avenue McDonald's. The problem spot frustrates a people who work in the Garment District.
"The City of New York lets McDonald's operate that kind of store knowing there's that kind of danger there, then McDonald's should be responsible and the city should close them down," one neighbor said.
CBS2 brought cameras into the nearby methadone clinic to talk to administrations, but was told to leave.
The drugs and the shooting are a throwback to the bad old days when the area around Penn Station was not safe. But Mayor Bill de Blasio and police Commissioner Bill Bratton said crime statistics prove otherwise now.
"Shootings are down as of 6 o'clock this morning, homicides are up about 19 against last year's record low number - as the mayor referenced, overall crime at the end of this year. we predict, will be around 3 percent," Bratton said. "It will be the lowest amount of crime -- index crime -- ever reported since going back to around 1963, so the city is very safe."
When asked if a reduction in the stop, question and frisk policy has led to more criminals carrying guns, Bratton said he does not believe that is the case.
"I don't believe that criminals feel comfortable walking around the city armed with firearms," Bratton said. "I think the story that's being promoted that somehow or other, because we have consciously reduced our activity such as stop, question and frisk; consciously reduced some of our summons activity, that that is emboldening them -- I don't see that."
The area around the subway entrance was sealed off by police for hours after the shooting. A cane could be seen sitting at the top of the steps, Papa reported.
Police officials said they are looking for one shooter with possibly two accomplices. Police are also looking for a silver sedan that fled the scene.
Late Monday, elected officials issued a letter to Linda Dunham, identified in the letter as the owner of the Eighth Avenue McDonald's franchise.
The letter – issued by Councilman Corey Johnson (D-3rd), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and state Sens. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan) – made not of "extremely troubling conditions" at the McDonald's and mentioned the New York Times article focusing on it.
"We believe this establishment poses an unacceptable threat to public safety," the letter said. "Acts of violence, as well as the open purchase, sale and consumption of drugs and alcohol have long been identified with this location."
The letter said officials recognize that Dunham has taken steps to improve security, but they have proved insufficient. Dunham was invited at the letter to discuss the issue with the officials' offices, and representatives from the NYPD Midtown South Precinct and Manhattan Community Board 5.
CBS2 has reached out to McDonald's for comment, but had not heard back as of late Monday.
for more features.