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Summer Of Gun Violence Continues In Capital Region

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Local police agencies continue to grapple with a summer of gun violence some say has been fueled by the pandemic.
Sunday night Albany police were called to investigate the city's 67th shooting incident so far this year. Police spokesman Steve Smith says the call for "shots fired" came in around 9:20 p.m., bringing officers to Cortland Place, a street near the corner of Quail and Western.

"When officers arrived they located a 24-year-old man who had been shot in the back. He also sustained a gunshot wound to his neck. He was treated by emergency medical personnel there at the scene and then rushed to Albany Medical Center Hospital where, thankfully, his injuries appeared to be non-life threatening. He is still admitted at the hospital and recovering."

Following a short investigation, police say they arrested 21-year old David Miley of Albany, charged him with attempted murder, criminal use of a firearm and criminal posession of a weapon.

An hour later, Schenectady police were called to investigate a shooting at 1116 Sixth Avenue. It turned out to be the city's fourth gun-related homicide this year. Sgt. Nick Mannix says the initial calls were for "shots fired."

"As we had officers heading up there we were getting more and more calls about the shots being fired. Once on the scene, our officers discovered a female victim that was suffering from a gunshot wound. Unfortunately that female victim ended up succumbing to her injuries."

Mannix says the search is on for 31-year-old Jennifer Ostrander's killer.

"It's sad for me to see so much violence. Not only in Schenectady, but Albany especially, Troy, and I really don't understand why this summer is so heavily laden with gun violence."

Albany Cure Gun Violence 518 Snug Program Director Jerome Brown thinks he knows.

"This year has been an unconventional year with us having to deal with COVID-19. With our agency following the governor's protocol, there was a time period from March to June, well really July, where we were unable to see our participants and engage with them as effectively as we used to do."

Brown says his agency normally holds at least six face-to-face contacts with participants each month. He says the additional burdens of individuals released due to new bail reform laws, as well as prisoners whose sentences were reduced to discourage the spread of COVID-19, severely strained program efforts.

Smith says police always appreciate the public taking an active role in reporting and helping solve gun crime.

"For listeners that don't know whatCapital Region Crimestoppers is, it's an online platform, an independent non-profit organization that works in partnership with the Albany Police Department to provide detectives and police officers with information relevant to investigations that are taking place in the city. When it comes to crimestoppers all you need to do is go online and submit the tip, and the police department, the non-profit, nobody will ever know your identity, You're simply just a number, and you're a tip number."

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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