June 29 (UPI) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that they will “flood” Times Square with additional police officers following a shooting over the weekend that has police on manhunt for a suspect in his 20s.
The New York Police Department on Monday released video of the suspect who is accused of shooting a 21-year-old man in the back in the iconic Manhattan tourist district on Sunday.
Authorities said the shooting happened at around 5:15 p.m. near 45th Street and 7th Avenue.
The Citadel military college in South Carolina identified the victim as Class of 2021 graduate and U.S. Marine 2nd Lt. Samuel Poulin. He was transported to a hospital following the shooting and is expected to survive, authorities said.
Police said the shooting on Sunday was the result of a dispute between the suspect and several other people.
Surveillance video released by NYPD Crime Stoppers shows the suspect firing a pistol several times before fleeing the scene in a black, white and red jacket with a backpack strapped to his back.
NYPD Chief Rodney Harrison told reporters during a press conference Monday that the suspect pulled out a firearm and shot several rounds, one of which ricocheted and hit Poulin in the back.
It is the second shooting in Times Square in as many months after three people, including a 4-year-old child, were shot in the high-traffic area on May 9.
In response, de Blasio on Monday announced the initiative of the Times Square Safety Action plan.
“This is a place that is so precious and so important to our city. It has to be safe,” he said. “The bottom line is we are going to flood the zone in Times Square with additional officers to make sure this situation is resolved once and for all.”
Harrison said the additional officers will attempt to address some of the issues in the area with aggressive panhandling and soliciting of CDs, which may have been the cause of the dispute that led to Sunday’s shooting.
The police force will also seek to deploy undercover agents to engage with those soliciting CDs “to see if we could do a better job of enforcement.”
The announcement was made as the city experiences an increase in gun violence amid the pandemic.
According to statistics from the NYPD, gun violence in the city has been increasing. Last month, there was a 73% jump in shootings with 173 incidents compared to 100 a year prior. In April, the city experienced a 166% increase in shootings from the April of 2020.
De Blasio said the new plan for Times Square is needed to protect people — including workers, tourists and residents — who are heading out during the summer.
“They have to be safe and they have to feel safe,” he said. “So, we’re going to ensure that Times Square is very, very clearly well-patrolled, visibly patrolled.”