HAMILTON HEIGHTS (PIX11) — A manhunt is underway for whoever is behind a double fatal shooting in Upper Manhattan this past weekend.
The crimes are part of a larger increase in shootings over the last year in New York City, and while the situation is serious, New York’s mayor is emphasizing that it could be worse.
Monday afternoon, dozens of people continued a process they’d begun a day and a half before. They sat, stood, and walked about in front of a large and growing makeshift shrine on the corner of 151st Street and Broadway, dedicated to two young men who lost their lives there at around 3:00 Sunday morning.
Police released surveillance video from the incident that shows a man in a sleeveless gray hoodie and camouflage shorts taking aim and shooting. His three shots left Francisco Mercedez, 29, and his friend, Kenny Jimenez, 21, dead.
The gunman then sped off with a group of people in a white sedan with blacked out windows.
When the shots rang out, Hector Melo, a lifelong friend of Mercedez and Jimenez, was standing right next to the two homicide victims.
“I just saw them all fall on the floor,” Melo told PIX11 News. “I fell on top of Kenny and tried to do what I can. I seen him bleed out of his mouth and his neck. I tried to take blood out of his mouth with my hand, but he couldn’t breathe.”
Family members, and the many, many friends of the two victims came out by the hundreds all day Sunday and Monday to the makeshift memorial to pay respects, and to wonder collectively how and why this happened.
Mercedez, also used the stage name Summa. He was a rapper who’d recently released a new recording. Summa had, in fact, just gotten back from a record release party in Connecticut when his life was cut abruptly short.
The homicides were part of a rash of shootings over the weekend, with up to 20 people injured in addition to the deaths of Mercedez and Jimenez. Among the injured were three people in Thomas Jefferson Park in East Harlem. On Monday, there was a frequent police patrol there.
The problem, however, wasn’t just over this past weekend. The NYPD’s own Compstat numbers show that year-to year, shootings are up 13 percent citywide.
The part of Manhattan where Mercedez and Jimenez were shot and killed is served by the 30th precinct. Compstat for the 30th show that shootings are up 60 percent over last year.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press availability Monday that he was concerned. However, he also made an additional point. He said that crime in general is three percent lower this year, compared to last, and that there have been 26 fewer murders.
That’s no great comfort to a man who just lost two lifelong friends. “There’s gonna be a time to forgive and forget,” said Melo, “but right now I’m just in shock.”