Gang crimes have led to an increase in murders and shootings in New York City this year, police officials said on Wednesday, reports the Wall Street Journal. There were 29 murders in October, a 61 percent increase from 18 during the same month in 2018. Murders are up three percent for the year, with 267 reported between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1, compared with 259 in 2018. Shooting incidents have increased nearly five percent in 2019, with 670 between Jan. 1 and Nov. 1, compared with 641 in 2018. Robberies and felony assaults are also both up roughly one percent this year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said crime remains at historically low levels. “We’re going to keep fighting to drive the numbers down,” de Blasio said. Officials partially attributed the increase in violent crimes to gang activity and the illegal drug trade. October’s spike in murders was also partially driven by a pair of quadruple homicides that occurred over consecutive weekends. Police Commissioner James O’Neill said the murder rate in New York City is 3.4 per 100,000 people. In 1990, the murder rate was 30 per 100,000. “The numbers are small, the percentages might be up, but the numbers are very small,” he said. The monthly briefing on crime statistics was the last for O’Neill, who will become senior vice president and global head of physical security for Visa Inc. on Dec. 2. Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, a Queens-raised son of Irish immigrants, will succeed O’Neill. De Blasio has faced criticism for not appointing a person of color as NYPD’s top cop. The top black official, First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, said he was disappointed he wasn’t offered the job.