Gun violence

Newburgh Avoids State of Emergency After Gun Violence Forces Another School Closure

Four teenagers were shot Wednesday; three were hit in the leg and a fourth was wounded in the stomach, but all are expected to survive

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Leaders of a city in Orange County opted against declaring a state of emergency Friday after a second shooting this week that wounded four teenagers prompted another school closing in the Hudson Valley.

The shooting led to the closure of Newburgh Free Academy's campuses on Thursday and again Friday, though the gunfire was closer to South Middle School, which stayed open, according to district officials and reports. Separate gunfire outside Poughkeepsie High School Monday saw that building closed all week.

In the latest case Wednesday, witness video showed several students ducking for cover and running for their lives as at least 10 shots were fired, according to police. Four teens between 16 and 18 years old were struck.

Three of the teens were shot in the leg and the fourth was shot in the stomach --- all are expected to survive. Police say the shooting started as some kind of dispute and the violence spread to five blocks near the high school, though the Newburgh Enlarged City School District said the gunfire didn't happen near its campuses.

Newburgh police say there has been a 19% jump in violent crime compared to the same time last year, as well as an increase in shooting victims (31) in 2021.

Mayor Torrance Harvey said he met with other Newburgh officials Thursday night before holding a joint press conference on Friday to discuss next steps for the community.

The city has also put together a coalition of local, state and federal agencies to tackle the spike in gun violence.

Maria Ramirez, an activist present Thursday night at City Hall's public working session, says this latest uptick is an opportunity to try something different because the same old methods of dealing with crime and violence don't work.

"We're being reactive instead of proactive," Ramirez said. "Folks feel like the solution is to increase police, police presence, law enforcement, and we can just see that it's not really making a difference."

No arrests have been made in Wednesday's shooting. Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said it was not immediately clear if it was gang-related.

Hoovler told The Times Herald-Record the gunfire took place over a quarter-mile area, describing it as “a bunch of 16- and 17-year-olds that are just shooting at each other, running up and down the street.”

The Hudson Valley town of Newburgh is home to about 28,000 people and has been beset by poverty, high crime and boarded-up homes for years.

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