NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Bullet-riddled windows, yellow crime scene tape, and evidence markers denoting where shell casings fell on the sidewalk are becoming all-too-familiar sights on New York City streets.
Now in an unprecedented move, a federal agency is joining the effort to get gun crimes under control, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Monday.
Kramer is told it was a collective decision made by the federal government, the NYPD, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Those agencies are mounting a first-ever anti-gun initiative in high-crime areas.
“There’s going to be an increase in federal arrests – no doubt,” said ATF agent Charles Mulham.
Mulham’s words were intended to be a stiff warning to city residents who would carry weapons, and seem all to ready to use them. They will not only have to deal with the NYPD, but they will have the feds on their tail too.
ATF agents have mounted a first-ever summer gun initiative to get illegal weapons off the street.
And when the feds get involved, Mulham warned, “In many cases, the punishment is more severe.”
And Mulham said the feds will not rest with nabbing the triggerman.
“Of course, when the ATF gets involved with our resources and our tracing expertise, we’ll be able to figure out if weapon is part of an interstate trafficking operation,” Mulham said.
With the increase in gun violence this summer, many more local shooting cases will be reviewed for possible prosecution in federal court.
“Now the government will even be also scrutinize the one-time felons, and they don’t necessarily have to have violent backgrounds,” Mulham said. “They can be people with non-violent backgrounds, but have a felony nonetheless, and now arrested with a weapon.”
The initiative comes as the NYPD is dealing with a surge in gun crimes. This past weekend alone, there were 13 shooting incidents – 17 victims, and two homicides.
And that tally did not include a shooting at a Brooklyn sports bar early Monday morning, where surveillance video showed a gunman opening fire just after closing and striking four people.
It happened around 2:15 a.m. in front of the D Avenue bar on Flatbush Avenue near Hawthorne Street in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. A man who works at the bar, but did not want to be identified, said police were actually in front of the bar minutes before the shooting.
“We’ve been here for three years, (and) no incidents,” a man who works at D Avenue but did not want to identified told CBS2’s Diane Macedo. “And then stop-and-frisk has been repealed, so guys are walking around with guns again.”
Manny Gomez, a security expert who has been both an NYPD officer and an FBI agent, said the federal program is unusual.
“If they’re going to go around doing gun busts on a day-to-day basis, that’s something that we really haven’t seen that often in New York City,” Gomez said.
In addition to freeing up resources for local prosecutors, the new approach will target the very people the NYPD blames for much of the violence – people who have done time in prison, and return to the streets to offend again.
At City Hall Monday, Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked if the NYPD needed any help.
“I think I stated very, very clearly — I have tremendous faith in the NYPD,” de Blasio said. “We went through a similar situation last year and they turned it around very effectively. We’ve hundreds of officers to where the need was greatest.”
Federal sources tell Kramer the new federal anti-gun program will allow agents to go after people with as little as one prior felony arrest, and hit them with charges that could carry up to 10 years to jail.
A longer record could get a gunman 15 years in a federal lockup.