New York City mayoral candidates responded to the city's latest high-profile shooting in Times Square as gun violence continues to be a top issue for the candidates preparing for a primary battle nearly six weeks away.
Three people, including a 4-year-old girl, were struck by gunfire around 5 p.m. Saturday after a nearby argument between a group of men turned violent and the suspected shooter pulled out a gun. Each victim was an innocent bystander shopping or visiting the tourist hotspot from out of town, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea revealed Saturday.
They're the latest victims to New York City's rising gun violence problem. The number of shootings recorded by the NYPD for April rose 166 percent over last year, from 56 in 2020 to 149 this year.
Democratic frontrunners Andrew Yang and Eric Adams discussed the Saturday shooting by delivering addresses from Times Square. The former held a press conference on Sunday morning where he delivered his strongest support yet for the NYPD.
“The truth is that New York cannot afford to defund the police, not while New Yorkers are concerned about rising rates of violent crime, petty crime, and walking freely in their neighborhoods," Yang said.
"If the city cannot stop shootings in Times Square, one of the most policed neighborhoods in our city, what does that say about what’s happening in Black and brown communities throughout our city where we’re underinvesting and we know that rates of gun violence are higher?" Yang asked.
Brooklyn Borough President and mayoral candidate Eric Adams traveled to Times Square late Saturday to deliver his reaction to the evening's shooting on Facebook Live. He returned to Times Square Sunday afternoon to hold a formal press conference and criticize the actions of his top competitor.
"We can’t just recognize these shootings when it is in Times Square—it is time for us to recognize it when it is on any block in our city," Adams said Sunday. “It took a shooting in Andrew Yang’s backyard for him to wake up and discover there was a crime problem, and to stand up to gun violence."
Adams, a former NYPD captain, has so far positioned himself as a candidate tough against crime, calling for the return of the department's plainclothes Anti-Crime Unit and work with the Port Authority to strengthen security checkpoints in an effort to slow the influx of guns into the city.
Outside a church in Brooklyn, candidate Maya Wiley addressed the shooting after calling for "real and effective" efforts to get guns off New York City streets.
"What we know is that we are not sufficiently tackling gun violence in our communities in our cities," Wiley said.
Dianne Morales, a candidate who shares Wiley's position in making additional cuts to the NYPD budget, called for "bigger solutions" than the police department to solve the ongoing crisis.
"This is heartbreaking and unfortunately all too common. It's a painful reminder that we need bigger solutions than the police. We have enough resources to finally address the conditions that got us here. This is our time to do just that," Morales tweeted Saturday.
The other Democratic candidates also took to Twitter over the weekend to respond to the shooting:
Ray McGuire: "We need to immediately increase the number of police officers within the NYPD focused on getting guns off our streets, as well as community resources that effectively prevent and disrupt violence."
Shaun Donovan: "NYC will never truly recover if we fail to address the pandemic of gun violence that continues to grip our city and country."
Kathryn Garcia: "Without serious and urgent action to stop the flow of illegal guns, we will only lose more New Yorkers to this senseless violence. We can't allow that. We must be better. -- I will increase community policing."
Scott Stringer: "Enough. We must end gun violence in our communities, get guns off our streets, and enact change to keep New Yorkers safe."
Republican candidate and Guardian Angels President Curtis Sliwa announced plans to step up security efforts within Times Square.
"When I become mayor, crime is priority no. 1. We gotta re-fund the police. And we gotta hire more police and we gotta make them proactive and let them take back the streets, the subways and the parks," Sliwa said.
Fellow GOP candidate Fernando Mateo released a statement as well: “I will make New York City safe by attacking crime, deploying thousands of cops to take back our streets, and urging both Judges and Prosecutors to keep criminals in jail where they belong."