A homeless man found dead in Lower Manhattan Sunday night may not have been connected to the recent shootings of homeless individuals in New York City and Washington D.C., officials said Monday.
The 41-year-old man was found around 6:30 p.m. Sunday evening. Police officials initially said he had died of a gunshot wound on his right leg, but had walked that back by Monday morning. The report of a gunshot led to suspicion that the victim may have been among those targeted by a suspect authorities believe has been targeting people experiencing street homelessness in New York and Washington.
The NYPD said the man had some sort of puncture wound, though it wasn’t clear whether or not it was from a gun or if it contributed to the man’s death. They also said they found drug paraphernalia at the scene and thought the man could have possibly died from an overdose, according to information provided by the NYPD. The city’s medical examiner didn’t return a request for comment immediately.
The man’s discovery came as NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell and Washington D.C Chief of Police Robert Contee announced they were on the hunt for a man who shot five homeless people in both cities and killed two of them — one in New York City on Saturday morning and one in D.C. on March 9th. All the attacks took place in the predawn hours while the men were sleeping.
In a joint statement issued late Sunday night, Mayor Eric Adams and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said both were, “disturbed by these heinous crimes.”
“We are also calling on unsheltered residents to seek shelter,” the mayors said. “It is heartbreaking and tragic to know that in addition to all the dangers that unsheltered residents face, we now have a cold-blooded killer on the loose, but we are certain that we will get the suspect off the street and into police custody.”
Adams last month launched a plan to remove homeless people from the city’s subways, which advocates had warned would likely lead to more homeless people sleeping outdoors on city streets. An annual report released by the city’s Health Department found that in fiscal year 2021, the number of deaths of homeless New Yorkers spiked to 640, up from 290 just three years earlier. It was the highest number of deaths of homeless New Yorkers, since the city began keeping track in 2006. Drug overdoses were the most frequent cause of death, the report found.