NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Security has been upped at the Crossroads of the World after a brawl that sent bullets flying ended with innocent bystanders in the hospital Saturday — and the gunman is still on the run.
Law enforcement sources confirmed they are looking for 31-year-old Farrakhan Muhammad, who is believed to be the person who opened fire at 44th Street and Seventh Avenue, CBS2’s John Dias reported Monday.READ MORE: New York Relaxes Most COVID Restrictions After Reaching 70% Vaccination Rate: 'A Momentous Day'
Police sources say Muhammad tried to shoot his brother, but missed. Instead, he hit three people, including 43-year-old Marcela Aldana from Passaic, New Jersey, a 4-year-old girl from Brooklyn and Wendy Magrinat, who was visiting from Rhode Island.
“I started screaming, ‘I’m gonna die,'” Magrinat said. “It was like one of the worst experiences of my life.”
Video shows a police officer carrying the 4-year-old to safety.
As for Aldana, Passaic Mayor Hector Lora said, “She didn’t even realize initially that she was hit. They had heard two individuals who began arguing and it had escalated from there. They had heard shots and everyone began to run. She grabbed her daughter.”
Aldana will have surgery next week to remove the bullet.
According to police, Muhammad is known to the NYPD for illegal vending in the Times Square area. That includes a harassment charge in March of last year after a vendor-related dispute during which he pushed a tourist.
Sources told CBS2’s Alice Gainer a turf war between Muhammad and his brother sparked the shooting. Police have been speaking with Muhammad’s brother, who told them they were arguing over space where they both illegally sell goods.
“This individual is going to be found and found soon and he’s going to pay the consequences,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
People visiting New York City on Monday said they were surprised about the weekend gun violence.
“That just sounds like a really sad situation for everyone involved,” Kirsten Guss, a tourist, told Dias.
WANTED in connection to shooting three people near West 44th Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan on May 8, 2021. @NYPDDetectives need anyone with information about the identity or whereabouts of this individual to contact @NYPDTips at #800577TIPS. All calls are anonymous. pic.twitter.com/qciBGCR6AK
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) May 9, 2021
Another tourist said the front of her hotel became a crime scene.READ MORE: Fireworks To Honor Essential Workers Tonight As New York Lifts Most COVID Restrictions
“We stay here and this street was closed,” said Aygun Blumenstein, who came to the city to visit her daughter for Mother’s Day weekend.
The incident happened in front of the Minskoff Theatre at a time when the city is trying to convince tourists it is safe to come back.
“I don’t know if I expected, like it still scares me,” Blumenstein said.
— FDNY Response Videos (@FDNYRespVids) May 8, 2021
While police are keeping their eyes peeled for Muhammad, some tourists are also being cautious.
“I’ve never, ever worried about one time, especially right here in Times Square. Then you hear something like that happening, and just think something’s gone wrong in the real recent past,” said Keith Picklesimer.
While many are worried, de Blasio stood firm Monday, saying he believes the city is safe and the shooting won’t impact tourism.
“In the end, people want to come to this city. It is an overwhelmingly safe city. When you look at New York City compared to cities around the country, around the world, this is a very safe place, and there’s more and more activity. The city is clearly coming back,” de Blasio said.
The mayor is also looking to Washington, D.C. for help in keeping New Yorkers and visitors safe.
“Too many guns available to too many people, and that needs policing solutions and community solutions. But it also needs a change in Washington. We need better laws to stop the flow of guns in this country,” he said.
The three victims in the Times Square incident are expected to be OK. Police are still trying to figure out the motive for the shooting.
Anyone with any information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit a tip via their website or via DM on Twitter, @NYPDTips. All calls are kept confidential.MORE NEWS: Red Cross Makes Urgent Plea For Blood Donations As Trauma Cases, Transplants, And Surgeries Increase
CBS2’s Alice Gainer contributed to this report