Three innocent bystanders, including a 4-year-old girl who was buying toys, were shot dead on Saturday afternoon in busy Times Square in New York City, when someone opened fire during a dispute between several men, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. All victims were expected to recover.
The shooting took place shortly before 5 p.m. near the intersection of West 44th Street and Seventh Avenue, police said. The suspects were still at large.
The 4-year-old girl, from Brooklyn, was due to undergo surgery for a gunshot wound to her leg, Shea said. A 23-year-old woman from Rhode Island who was touring was shot in the leg, and a 43-year-old woman from New Jersey was shot in the foot, he said. None of them are related to the others.
Shea told an evening press conference that police had a person of interest they were looking to interview. The police department posted a video of the man walking away from the scene on his Twitter page.
“We have … many witnesses that a dispute took place on the street involving at least two to four people,” Shea said. “It was during this conflict that at least one person pulled a gun.”
Surveillance videos posted on social media by firefighters show people fleeing the scene after the shooting. What appears to be three shots is heard over the audio of the videos.
Shea said an officer heard four to five gunshots and officers found three shell casings, appearing to be .25 caliber, at the scene.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the shooting “senseless violence” and promised the suspects would be brought to justice.
“The flow of illegal guns into our city must stop,” he said in a Twitter post.
Shea said city police have seized guns at an alarming rate over the past two years and said “bad policies” were to blame. He declined to give more details.
“How many children do we still have to be slaughtered before we realize that bad policies have consequences and we need action and we need policies regarding laws that have consequences,” Shea said.
City police officials have previously blamed bail reforms that went into effect last year for returning offenders to the streets, but there is little evidence that those released from prison are behind the new crimes.