More than 40 shooting incidents took place in New York City during the Independence Day weekend, killing at least nine people, local authorities said.
On Monday, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) confirmed that from July 3 to 5, 63 people were shot in 44 incidents, leading to at least nine fatalities, reports Xinhua news agency.
According to the NYPD, the majority of the shootings occurred between late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, killing three people and injuring 34 others.
The NYPD released its citywide crime report for June on Monday, showing that there were 205 shooting incidents the previous month, a 130.3 per cent increase from a year ago.
Meanwhile, 528 shootings were recorded citywide in the first six months of this year, compared with 362 a year ago, the report showed.
“The sharp increase in shootings and violence in New York puts innocent people at risk and tears at the fabric of life in our city,” said New York City Police Commissioner Dermot Shea in the report.
The NYPD is also facing challenges, including deep budget cuts and a surge of retirements, according to the report.
Facing mounting pressure from protesters who call for “defunding the police”, New York City slashed $1 billion from the NYPD budget for the fiscal year 2021, and diverted the funding to youth and social services.
In an interview with local news channel NY1 on Monday, Shea blamed the surge in gun violence on the city’s efforts to decrease the population on Rikers Island, where a notorious jail complex is located with some 10,000 beds.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of prisoners have been released from the jail to avoid the clustering of infections.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Monday that a number of reasons have contributed to the spike in shootings, including coronavirus-led court closures, economic damages, and that “people have been pent up for months and months”.
He said he would talk to community leaders on how to deploy police and the approaches they take, among other topics.
New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo also said he is “very concerned” about the rising number of shootings in the city.
“And again, it’s the communities that in many ways need the most, pay the highest price.”
Meanwhile, the Fourth of July weekend witnessed a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country, forcing to tighten measures to curb the spread of the virus.
The US currently accounts for the world’s highest number of infections and fatalities at 2,935,008 and 130,277, respectively.