Trump Issues Warning to De Blasio After Weekend of Gun Violence in New York

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
August 17, 2020Updated: August 18, 2020

President Donald Trump on Aug. 16 issued a warning to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio following a wave of gun violence in the city over the weekend that left at least seven people dead.

The president appeared to suggest that unless the mayor’s office is able to tackle the recent surge in violent crime in the city, the federal government would step in.

“Law and Order. If @NYCMayor can’t do it, we will!” Trump wrote.

It came as at least 52 people were shot in the nation’s most populous metropolis in the space of 72 hours since Aug. 13, according to ABC 7. The city has seen a spike in violent crime in recent months.

According to figures from the New York Police Department, shootings in the city logged a staggering 220 percent increase in the week ending July 19 compared to the same week a year ago, while monthly shootings have surged by 194 percent compared to the same 28-day period in 2019.

According to a report by the New York Police Department’s CompStat Unit (pdf), which covers the week of July 13–19 and provides percentage change statistics across a range of time frames, both the number of shooting incidents and the number of shooting victims have spiked.

The most pronounced surge is visible in the week-to-date figures for the week ending July 19, with 77 shooting victims and 64 shooting incidents this year, compared to 25 shooting victims and 20 shooting incidents last year. That’s a 208 percent increase in shooting incidents and a 220 percent increase in victims, relative to the comparable week in 2019.

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NYPD officers listen as Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch holds a news conference to address the “current anti-law enforcement environment” at the Icahn Stadium parking lot in New York, on June 9, 2020. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

On the morning of Aug. 15 in Queens, a gunman killed off-duty corrections officer John Jeff with his own department-issued service weapon as he was walking with a colleague. He later died in the hospital with gunshot wounds to the head and chest. Police are still searching for the suspect.

In Brooklyn, a 47-year-old died in Prospect Lefferts on Parkside Avenue and Ocean Avenue on Aug. 15. The victim was discovered with two gunshot wounds to the head and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The NYPD has repeatedly complained that last year’s bail reforms let criminals stay out of jail even after repeated arrests. Another contributing factor to the recent surge in violence could be that as the city was hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, many city services were curtailed or shut down, with courts adjudicating only the most pressing cases. Others, such as those involving gun possession, have piled up.

“We have over 1,000 people that have been indicted on a gun possession charge, where the cases are open, and they are walking around the streets of New York today,” Michael LiPetri, NYPD chief of crime control strategies, told the NY Post in June.

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An NYPD police officer wears a Blue Line mask indicating support for law enforcement in Brooklyn, N.Y., on June 25, 2020. (Lloyd Mitchell/Reuters)

A monthly comparison, which looks at the number of shooting victims and incidents in a 28-day period in 2020 relative to a comparable period in 2019, shows a 199 percent rise in shooting victims and a 194 percent increase in shooting incidents. The yearly comparison, which looks at year-to-date numbers of shooting victims and incidents between 2020 and 2019, shows a 78 percent and 69 percent rise, respectively.

Meanwhile, the city council, at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recommendation, recently slashed the NYPD budget by $1 billion amid a massive budget shortfall caused by the pandemic lockdown, as well as calls from some politicians to defund the police completely.

Responding to Trump’s remarks, the mayor said during a press briefing Monday that the city will continue to rely on the NYPD in addressing the surge in violent crime.

“We are dealing with a perfect storm … We have been put through hell on the city,” de Blasio told reporters. “Everything fell apart simultaneously because of the coronavirus.


“We’re now building it back up and the NYPD is moving officers where they’re needed, engaging with the community more deeply to fight crime, increasing gun arrests, but it will take time, and we need the whole picture to come back into focus.”

“The bottom line is, the NYPD is, obviously, as they have done for decades upon decades, they are the people who can help us address this issue and end this violence and that’s who I’m relying on,” the mayor added.

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.