U.S. News

Rash of shootings in New York blamed on pandemic, bail reform

(Reuters) - New York police officials on Monday blamed the COVID-19 pandemic, animosity toward law enforcement and bail reform for the rash of deadly shootings in the nation’s most populous metropolis and other cities over the Fourth of July weekend.

In New York, 64 people were wounded and 11 were killed in 45 shootings, marking almost a threefold increase compared with the same three-day period last year.

In Chicago, 87 people were wounded and 17 were killed, including two children. In Atlanta, more than 30 people were wounded and five people were killed in shootings since Friday.

New York Police Department Chief Terence Monahan said the violence was linked to a multitude of factors, including a sharp decrease in jail population because of the coronavirus pandemic and a measure that requires judges to release defendants awaiting trial on misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies.

“We can fix this,” Monahan said at a briefing. “We need cooperation with the people who are afraid to come out of their buildings right now.”

Monahan also said animosity toward law enforcement after the May 25 death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police has emboldened some people who believe “that cops can’t do anything anymore.”

President Donald Trump, a Republican, has repeatedly accused local Democratic officials of failing to protect the public by getting tough to staunch the surge in violent crime.

In Georgia, Republican Governor Brian Kemp on Monday declared a state of emergency and activated 1,000 state National Guard troops to address violence in Atlanta.

Despite the recent uptick, the number of violent crimes in the United States has decreased by about half since the 1990s. In New York City, major crimes have fallen by more than 80% since 1990. In Chicago, violent crime has also declined over the last two decades, though the city experienced a particularly deadly summer in 2016.

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Dan Grebler