Local and federal authorities in New York and Washington, D.C. on Monday were intensifying their search for a “cold-blooded killer” who, according to police are targeting homeless people. Police are calling the shooter an alleged serial killer who has fatally shot two homeless men and wounding three others in a series of shootings since March 3, in the two cities.
Police in both cities are working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to investigate what Bowser called a “disturbing series of violent attacks during a news conference on Monday.
“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,” Mayors Eric Adams of New York and Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C. said in a joint statement on Sunday night.
But while questions continue to swirl about the suspect connected to those crimes, experts canvassed by the Daily Beast believe the individual is a serial killer who could be on an escalating mission-style “odyssey” that will only be stopped by his apprehension.
“This killer is riding a wave of emotion for him right now, and he is very unlikely to spot even with the ongoing investigations,” Dr. Scott Bonn, criminologist and author of the book “Why We Love Serial Killers,” told the Daily Beast on Monday. “In some ways, the publicity and multi-city investigation may feed his ego and drive him further. It depends on his emotional needs. But I would say it seems like he is escalating because the time-frame is getting shorter between killings. He is going to continue, and continue fairly quickly.”
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said Monday, “A ton of video and camera footage has allowed the two department to forensically link the cases.” Contee added, “Not much is known about the suspect, including whether he is homeless himself, what city he lives in, or his mode of transportation.”
The first attack was on March 3, in Washington, D.C. when police responded to a homeless man who was injured by a gunshot, in the northeast section of the city around 4 a.m. He was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Five days later, on March 8, another homeless man was wounded around 1.;20 a.m. just over a mile from the first scene. Like the first, the victim received nonfatal injuries.
The next day, March 9, police discovered a tent on fire around 2:50 a.m. Firefighters extinguished the fire and police discovered the remains of a man with multiple stab and gunshot wounds, with autopsy show death as a homicide.
The violence continued on March 12 in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. A man, 38, who was sleeping on the street was shot in his right forearm around 4:30 a.m., NYPD Deputy Chief Hank Saunter said at a news conference on Saturday. Saunter said the man woke up and screamed, “What are you doing?” before the assailant ran away.
Later in the day, about a mile away, police receive a call about a man who had suffered a gunshot wound to the head. Witnesses told police they heard gunshots around 6 a.m., and the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
During a joint press conference in D.C. Monday evening where new photos of the shooter were released for the first time, Bowser and Adams urged for the public’s help to identify the individual involved in the five shootings, noting that the reward for any information in now $70,000. Bowser also noted that officials are asking anyone experiencing homelessness in the two metropolitan cities to “seek shelter.”
This is a developing investigation and event and will be updated as new information become available.