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Shootings Continue At Record Clip In City Of Albany

Dave Lucas / WAMC

Officials say there is zero tolerance for gun violence in the city of Albany, where shootings have continued almost daily.
With shootings up by 300 percent this year, Albany Police continue investigating a shooting early Monday morning and a fatal shooting over the weekend. They say a 33-year-old man was shot in the leg on Woodlawn Avenue in the wee hours Monday. He was treated at Albany Med for non-life threatening injuries. A Saturday shooting on North Lake Avenue resulted in the death of a 24-year old man, identified as William Hooks III. There have been no arrests in either case.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan spoke with WAMC News Monday afternoon.

"We're continuing to investigate these shootings and it's incredibly troubling. We have been working with all of our partnres in law enforcement and our gun violence interventgion team is reconvening with all of the partners to determine what we can do to prevent people from the victims of gun violence or committing gun violence."

In hopes of quelling the violence, Police Chief Eric Hawkins tells WAMC he's renewing the call for help from the community to address the burgeoning gun problem.

"Our plea to the community during the press conference was for members of the community to help us to get through this spike in violence that we've been seeing, and the engagement that we would like to see would be for community members to share information with us if they have it, to convey to our young men, because it is primarily young men in our community who are engaged in some of this violence, convey to those young men that it's not acceptable to use handguns or weapons as a means of resolving some of the conflicts that we're seeing."

Hawkins contends the pandemic likely played a role in the uptick in gun-related crime, as social distancing and other guidelines aimed at halting transmission of the coronavirus directly impacted police-community programs and relations, which may have given the impression of a diminished police presence.

"There were a lot of young men in our community who were not worried about COVID-19 and they used that opportunity with fewer police around and fewer police contacts to seek retribution for some grievances that they had with other young men and that turned into retaliations for those retributions, so we have a cascading effect in terms of criminal activity and shootings that we were seeing. We understand what's happening. We understand the dynamics. We're now in the process of putting some things in place where we can safely do what needs to be done in order to address some of these things. And one of the key parts of our strategy is making sure that we find out who these individuals are who are comitting violence and arresting them, prosecuting them."

Hawkins adds community engagement that has been on-hold during the pandemic is restarting and notes it still remains to be seen if gangs are a factor in any of the recent shootings. He also wants the community to know that summer police-sponsored events like the barbecues and movies will be resumed as soon as health officials give the green light.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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