Day After Deadly Times Square Shooting, Bloomberg Rails Against Illegal Guns
By Nicole Bode
DNAinfo Associate Editor
MANHATTAN — A day after a deadly shootout in Times Square pitted an NYPD sergeant against a street peddler armed with a MAC-10 machine gun, Mayor Michael Bloomberg renewed his call for an end to illegal weapons.
"We've got to stop this. This is one of the great public health threats. And our police officers are clearly in danger," Bloomberg said Friday, according to the Associated Press.
"We keep getting this lesson every day," Bloomberg added, "If you think of all the publicity about the terrible tragedy of Virginia Tech, we have a Virginia Tech in this country every day. It's just spread across 50 states."
Raymond Martinez, 25, of the Bronx, was hustling to sell CDs and DVDs to tourists with his brother when Sergeant Christopher Newsom approached and asked for their tax papers, police said.
Martinez fled into the breezeway of the neighboring Marriott Marquis Hotel, then spun around and fired two rounds at the officer from his stolen MAC-10 machine gun, police said. When the gun jammed, Sgt. Newsom returned fire, fatally wounding Martinez in the chest and arm, police said.
The gun — a black, foot-long compact weapon — had been reported stolen in Richmond VA on Oct. 28, police said. A set of business cards from Virginia dealers were found in Martinez’ pocket — including one with a handwritten note on the back referring to a 1985 martial arts movie.
"I just finished watching 'The Last Dragon.' I feel sorry for a cop if he think I'm getting into his paddy wagon," the note read.
Bloomberg has long railed against the pipeline of illegal guns that are stolen or sold in other states and trafficked into NYC and elsewhere.
His administration went as far as to send undercover agents to buy weapons at gun shops around the country, then sued the shop owners for failure to do sufficient background checks, among other violations. He has also enlisted a coalition of mayors from around the nation on the issue.
Thursday's shooting was a chilling case-in-point of Bloomberg's message, shattering the happy holiday bustle in broad daylight in the heart of NYC’s holiday tourist hub.
One bullet flew through the window of the Broadway Baby gift shop at Broadway and 45th Street and the gunfire was dangerously close to the Marriott hotel's entrance.
The bullet pierced through a book about the Broadway play, "Wicked," hit a baseball and stopped in a shelf filled with t-shirts reading "I Love New York," The AP reported.
No passerby were injured, police said. NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Thursday the shooting appeared justified.
Sgt. Newsom is a 17-year-veteran who heads a task force to crack down on aggressive street peddlers who try to scam tourists, police said.
He recognized Martinez from a common street hustle in which peddlers ask the tourist’s name, then sign it on a CD and demand payment, police said.
Martinez’ family told DNAinfo he led a rap group called “Square Free” — and the group’s YouTube videos show Martinez rapping in Times Square.
Martinez’ brother Oliver, 28, was questioned by police and released after the shooting.
"He was a good person, he had a great heart," said a man who identified himself as Martinez's cousin. "It doesn't make sense."