NEW YORK (AP) — Authorities are searching for a man who is believed to have attacked multiple people who were sleeping on the streets in Washington, D.C., and New York City, killing two of his victims and injuring three others, police said.
District of Columbia police said Sunday in a news release their investigators are working with the NYPD to find the man who fatally shot and stabbed a man Wednesday in the district and killed another man Saturday in New York City.
The suspect shot and injured two other people experiencing homelessness earlier in the month in Washington and one other person Saturday in New York, police said.
“We are committed to sharing every investigative path, clue and piece of evidence with our law enforcement partners to bring this investigation to a swift conclusion and the individual behind these vicious crimes to justice,” Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said in the news release.
Police determined the same person committed the attacks based on the similarities of each shooting and evidence recovered from the scenes. The victims were attacked without provocation, police said.
New York Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said in the joint news release the city’s “homeless population is one of our most vulnerable and an individual preying on them as they sleep is an exceptionally heinous crime.”
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting in the investigation.
New York Mayor Eric Adams said a task force composed of police officers and a homeless outreach team would focus on finding unhoused people in the subways and other locations and would urge them to seek refuge at city-owned shelters.
“The case is a clear and horrific intentional act of taking the life of someone, it appears, because he was homeless,” Mayor Eric Adams said at a news conference. “Two individuals were shot while sleeping on the streets, not committing a crime but sleeping on the streets.”
The attacks were reminiscent of the beating deaths of four homeless men as they slept on the streets in New York’s Chinatown in the fall of 2019. Another homeless man, Randy Santos, has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in those attacks.