MANHATTAN VALLEY — A young man shot in the leg after a fight on a residential street Sunday afternoon was the third shooting victim in the neighborhood over the past month — one more than the entire number last year, police said.
The victim in this weekend's shooting, which happened about 2 p.m. on the sidewalk outside 110 W. 109th St. between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues, was struck in the right leg and was expected to survive, police said.
The violence was sparked when a pair of men got into a fight with another three men, all of whom live on the same block and presumably know each other, said Captain Marlon Larin of the 24th Precinct.
The smaller group of men was losing a fist fight when one of them pulled a gun and shot his opponent in the leg, Larin explained. The suspect, who is under 21 years old, is known to police, but they have not found and arrested him yet, Larin added.
Neither the suspect, the victim nor any of the other men who participated in the fight appear to have gang affiliations or extensive criminal records, the captain noted.
The violence is "a stark reminder that we can’t let our guard down," Larin said.
The shooting is the third in a month over a five-block stretch on or near Columbus Avenue between West 104th and 109th streets, though those incidents are unrelated, he said.
"I would caution against drawing a conclusion that this is part of a sustained crime wave. The incidents do not appear to be directly connected," he added.
On April 8, a 25-year-old man was shot in the shoulder on Columbus Avenue at West 107th Street at 10:50 p.m, leaving him paralyzed as a result of the injuries, Larin said.
The assailant is still at large, but Larin said police believe they know who it is and that the violence was over a drug-dealing dispute.
Both the victim and the shooter are "neighborhood guys," he added.
A couple weeks earlier, on March 22 at around 1:15 a.m., a group of Harlem gang members shot a gang member from the Douglass Houses on Columbus Avenue at West 104th Street likely as retribution for a post on social media, Larin said.
The Harlem gang members fired 12 shots, hitting the 18-year-old victim three times, including twice in the torso and once in his thigh, the captain said. He was expected to survive.
The shooting likely came in response to a social media post by the victim's gang earlier that night announcing they were going to crash a rival gang's party in Harlem, Larin explained.
The victim is not cooperating with police and not pressing charges, Larin added. Police have a good idea of who the shooting suspect is, but they have to build their case independently, he said.
In 2014, there were only two shootings — both at the Douglass Houses — for the entire year in the 24th Precinct, which stretches from West 86th to 110th streets between Central Park and Hudson River, Larin noted. One occurred in February and the other in August.
That compares to three shootings in the precinct so far this year.
"If we were to predict our next shooting, it would be safe to say it would be Columbus [Avenue]," Larin said. "That’s where our attention has to be."
City Councilman Mark Levine stressed that the shootings were not evidence of a crime spree but said, "three in a row should sober us all to redouble our efforts to prevent gun violence."
Levine said he would be asking the mayor if Manhattan Valley could be a candidate for the violence interrupters program for which the city is spending $12 million.
The program typically employs former gang members to defuse situations that would have escalated to gun violence.
Larin asked that the public partner with police in coming forward with any tips or concerns about activity in the neighborhood.
"The corporate knowledge of the community is invaluable," he said.