Updated with surveillance video, 11:48 p.m. on Friday. Read the full news article here.
Three people were found dead in a parked car on 122nd Street between Broadway and Claremont Avenue on Thursday evening. The apparent cause of death was a gunshot wound to each.
The three victims—all Hispanic men who appear to be in their 20s or 30s—were found inside a newly registered, legally parked BMW. A passerby noticed the men, who were wearing white T-shirts drenched in blood, at around 6:30 p.m. No windows or doors of the car appeared to be broken, but, according to Paul Browne, the NYPD's chief spokesman, the police do not suspect a murder-suicide.
The car was parked four carlengths from the northeast corner of 122nd and Claremont, in front of the Manhattan School of Music, and across from the entrance to Knox Hall, a Columbia building.
As of 9:50 p.m., the police were moving a van in front of the vehicle, blocking sightlines. Crowds of locals had gathered in the median and across Broadway. Most networks were on the scene. By 10:08 p.m., the police had hung sheets between trucks so as to completely block the view of the crime scene.
Browne issued a new statement to reporters at 10:15 p.m. with the following details. Check after the jump.
- (UPDATE: 10:55 p.m.) Despite initial reports that believed that the passenger was a black male, all three men have been identified as Hispanic. The passenger in the back seat was shot in the left temple and the other two appear to be shot in the neck or head. The police is working under the premise that all three were shot inside the car. Browne doubts that their names will be released tonight.
- The car is a 2009 BMW LI—not 2012, as reported in early media accounts.
- The car has New York plates that do not match the vehicle, as well as temporary decals on the windshield (stickers that one would receive from a car dealership after recently purchasing a car)—leading police to believe that the car was recently purchased.
- A male passerby was walking from Riverside Park toward Broadway on 122nd Street when he found the vehicle on the north side of the road at 6:30 p.m. Believing the passengers to be dead, he flagged down police.
- The car was believed to have been parked for not more than an hour.
- As of 10:15 p.m., crime scene investigators were photographing the victims in place. They have not yet been removed from the car.
- There were no reports of shots fired and no calls to 911. A class let out of Knox around 7:30 p.m. and Browne said that nobody in the class had reported hearing shots.
- The police are in possession of some surveillance video and are looking for more.
As of 9:20 p.m., the police had not yet entered the vehicle. Looking from the outside the car, the NYPD believed that a Hispanic male was driving, a black male was the front passenger and was wearing a Yankees hat, and a man of unknown ethnicity was in the back of the car. (The car's windows are tinted and it is difficult to see in.) The car's plates do not match the vehicle.
By midnight, the bodies had been removed, and the police had left.
A witness said that he was walking to dinner in the area at 7 p.m. when he heard the voice of a policeman over a bullhorn asking pedestrians to clear the block.
Columbia's emergency text messaging service alerted most students to the news at 8:11 p.m. A follow-up text message at 10:13 p.m. reports that the investigation is continuing, "but there is no apparent involvement by members of the Columbia community." Vice President for Public Safety Jim McShane tells Spec that, with the exception of notifying students of evening class cancellations during a blizzard two years ago, this is the first time the emergency texts have been put to use, and certainly "the first real use of the system for a spontaneous event."
The news was at the top of the 11 o'clock newscasts for most major networks. CBS and NBC interviewed GSAS student Gustavo Lacerda and cited Columbia's emergency text as being the first notification of the shootings for the community.
Update, 11:48 p.m. Friday: Police have released surveillance video that shows the suspect calmly walking away from the scene. The video shows the suspect wearing a white t-shirt, carrying a bag, and holding the left side of his head as he departs the scene. You can view the video here.
The NYPD is investigating, as is Spectator, and we'll post more details as we get them. If you were a witness or have other information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
"It's New York, nothing surprises me," said Amir Arroyo, 37, who has lived on W. 123rd Street his whole life. "But you know when it hits close to home you're alarmed. You don't want to hear of anyone getting their life taken or getting shot." He said his apartment has been burgled three times, but that he's still stunned by the news.
"You don't expect it to happen here. There's only one strip of residence. You've got colleges, a church, so, yeah, it's shocking," he said.
For Jonathan Gordon, a second-year student at Columbia Law School, the shooting is so alarming because "I wouldn't have thought that this was a potentially dangerous area. It seems like a quiet neighborhood. Certainly some place I wouldn't still feel safe walking."
If you have any information, submit tips to the police by calling 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), texting "TIP577" (plus your message) to "CRIMES" (274637), or going to this form.