Suspected killer of homeless men in New York and Washington is arrested

Images of man suspected of fatally shooting two homeless people
These images taken from surveillance video show a man suspected of fatally shooting two homeless people in New York.
(New York Police Department)

Police said early Tuesday that they arrested a suspected gunman who has been stalking homeless men asleep on the streets of New York and Washington, killing at least two people and wounding three others in less than two weeks.

Law enforcement arrested the suspect in Washington, where he was being interviewed by police, the capital’s Metropolitan Police Department said on Twitter.

Police in the two cities earlier released multiple surveillance photographs, including a closeup snapshot clearly showing the man’s face, and urged people who might know him to come forward.


“Additional information will be forthcoming,” the statement on Twitter said. “Thanks to the community for all your tips.”

The mayors of New York and Washington had appealed to the public for help Monday in the search for the gunman. Investigators had acknowledged, though, that they knew little about the killer or his motive.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and New York Mayor Eric Adams, speaking together at a news conference Monday, had urged anyone living on the streets to go to city shelters for safety.

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“We know that our unsheltered residents already face a lot of daily dangers, and it is unconscionable that anybody would target this vulnerable population,” Bowser said.

Adams said New York police and homeless outreach teams would focus on finding unhoused people in the subways and other locations to urge them to seek refuge at city-owned shelters.

In Washington, city outreach workers were passing out flyers among the homeless population, urging people to “be vigilant” and featuring multiple pictures of the suspect.

Investigators in the two cities began to suspect a link between the shootings Sunday after a Metropolitan Police Department homicide captain — himself a former New York resident — saw surveillance photos released Saturday by the New York Police Department as he scrolled through social media.

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The man in those photos looked similar to the one being sought by his own department.

Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee credited the quick coordination between departments, saying that without his officer making the connection, “it could have been months” before the link between the attacks was discovered.

The earliest known shooting happened about 4 a.m. March 3 in Washington, police said, when a man was shot and wounded in the city’s Northeast section. A second man was wounded March 8, just before 1:30 a.m.

At 3 a.m. the next day, police and firefighters found a dead man inside a burning tent. He was initially thought to have suffered fatal burns, but an autopsy revealed that he had died of multiple stab and gunshot wounds.

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The killer then traveled north to New York, police said.

At 4:30 a.m. Saturday, a 38-year-old man sleeping on the street in Manhattan, not far from the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, was shot in his right arm as he slept.

The victim screamed and the gunman fled, police said.

About 90 minutes later, the gunman fatally shot another man on Lafayette Street in the SoHo district, police said.

“He looked around. He made sure no one was there. And he intentionally took the life of an innocent person,” Adams said.

The victim’s body was found in his sleeping bag just before 5 p.m. Saturday.

The latest 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.

A year ago, four people were stabbed in New York, two fatally, by a man who randomly attacked homeless people in the subway system. That assailant, who was also homeless, is awaiting trial.

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Adams has been criticized by some anti-poverty advocates for his plan to remove homeless people from the city’s subway system by deploying police and mental health workers to keep people from sleeping in trains or stations.

On Monday, the mayor defended the policy, saying it was designed to protect the safety of both commuters and homeless residents.

“There is nothing dignified about allowing people to sleep on subway platforms,” he said.