After two more gun homicides in the past 24 hours, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Police Chief Eric Hawkins called another press conference this afternoon. WAMC's Dave Lucas was at police headquarters for the update.
With the city gripped by daily shootings, Sheehan and Hawkins on Wednesday turned to state troopers and Albany County sheriff’s deputies for assistance in quelling the violence. Hawkins told reporters a very small group of individuals is responsible for a large portion of the recent violence.
"We've identified some of the groups that are involved. We have an idea of what some of the underlying issues are. And right now we are in the enforcement mode."
Hawkins noted "The threat of jail time is a powerful deterrent."
Sheehan and Hawkins say the pandemic shutdown cut off young people's access to teachers, sports programs and police outreach that may have prevented some of the shootings.
"We had a number of individuals in this community who seized an opportunity to engage in this sort of violence."
Earlier, police announced the arrest of 32-year-old parolee Kareem Alstonn in connection with a shooting Wednesday evening on Ontario Street. Police identified the victim of a fatal shooting Wednesday afternoon on South Pearl Street as 21-year-old Nyjawuan Thomas of Troy. Police say the victim of a fatal shooting just before midnight on Second Avenue was 23-year-old Eddie Richardson of Albany.
Mayor Sheehan said "That is going to have repercussions. People are traumatized by it. They're angry. And there is always this threat of retaliation. And so we are working to ensure that we're reaching out to the family, to the friends, to those who loved this young man, to provide and ensure that we don't see a continuation of the violence. Somebody has to make the decision to stop it."
Hawkins described the victims and perpetrators as young Black males. He was asked to go into more detail about feuds and rivalries behind the gun violence.
"Some of it is drug related. Some of it is retaliation related. We've seen a lot that started from social media feuds that escalated out of control. We have associates who were involved in things and brought in other people, so it's just a whole gamut in terms of what's fueling this. And a lot of it is, to me anyway, doesn't make a lot of sense. It's trivial. But obviously to these young men involved in this it's not."
Shootings in Albany are up 300 percent this year. Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple told WAMC News Thursday that 14 deputies will join the city patrols:
"We want to be problem solvers. We want put st put the guns down. Let's have some peace, and we'll work through this. But you know, I mean, what's going on right now is a sense of lawlessness. And these poor residents in this in this great city, that capital of New York State, deserve better and they're gonna get it."