New York City is suffering through a bout of sensational crimes, even as the overall crime rate remains down. Among recent cases compiled by the New York Times: the body of a Julliard music student was found in a park; a Canadian bride-to-be, is found dead in a garbage bin; a business school executive was shot as he walked into a Queens subway station during the evening rush hour; a diamond district merchant was killed assassination-style on a busy Midtown avenue. Two days ago, a man was shot to death on a half-full subway car as terrified riders scattered.
The numbers show that killings have continued to decline this year. If the murder rate remains unchanged, New York will have the lowest homicide total at the end of the year since the city began systematically recording murders in 1962. Overall, violent crime is down 5.9 percent this year. “I would understand if people reading the newspapers thought that the city was not as safe as the numbers show,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a former police officer now teaching at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “These are people’s worst nightmare kind of crimes. You’re on the subway minding your own business and then the next stop, somebody’s robbed you or somebody’s shot you or you’re dead. Said Andrew Karmen, another John Jay professor: “Most people don’t become fearful from statistics. They become fearful from actual events that touch their lives. I can say, and the police can say, and the mayor can say that the violence underground is way, way down compared to what it used to be, but if somebody was on that subway car when the gunfire began or knew somebody who was shot at, that makes more difference than abstract statistical graphs. That’s what influences fear level.”