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New York, D.C. police open joint investigation into recent shootings of homeless men

Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee III, discusses preparations for the upcoming 2022 State of the Union Address during a news conference, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee III discusses preparations for the 2022 State of the Union address during a news conference, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022, in Washington.

The New York Police Department and Washington's Metropolitan Police Department announced a joint investigation Sunday into a string of shootings in the cities that left three people inured and two people dead. The departments say one person is likely responsible for the shootings in both cities.

Five men who are thought to be homeless were shot in separate incidences within a week and a half. Two of the men died, one in each city, according to a joint statement released by both departments.

On March 12 in New York, a 38-year-old man was shot in the arm while sleeping at about 4:30 a.m. At 5 p.m. the same day, a different man was pronounced dead after being found with gunshot wounds to the head and neck, according to the statement.

"Our homeless population is one of our most vulnerable and an individual praying on them as they sleep is an exceptionally heinous crime," said NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell.

Days earlier, three men were shot in Washington, D.C.

One man was shot March 3, and another shot March 8. Both victims in those incidences were shot in northeast D.C. and sent to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. On March 9, an officer saw a tent fire and later found a man dead inside. The autopsy listed the cause of death as multiple stab and gunshot wounds.

"We are committed to sharing every investigative path, clue and piece of evidence with our law enforcement partners to bring this investigation to a swift conclusion and the individual behind these vicious crimes to justice," MPD Chief Robert J. Contee said in a statement Sunday.

The Washington Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also investigating.

"Given the similarity in the modus operandi of the perpetrator, common circumstances involved in each shooting, circumstances of the victims and recovered evidence, the NYPD, the MPDC and the ATF will jointly investigate these offenses," the statement said.

The New York Police Department is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspect. The MPD is offering up to $25,000, while ATF is offering another $20,000.

In a joint statement, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and New York City Mayor Eric Adams urged the cities' homeless residents to seek shelter amid the crimes.

"Again, 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, but we are certain that we will get the suspect off the street and into police custody," they said. Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.