As of the second weekend in May, New York City had recorded 505 shooting victims, the most through that point of any year in the last decade.
The rise began in 2020, and experts say the economic and physical strain of the virus, which disproportionately took lives and jobs from neighborhoods already struggling with such violence, most likely drove the increase.
Those factors are not likely to subside soon, criminologists warn. Fears are growing that gun violence will slow the city’s ability to bounce back from its long lockdown.
Restaurants, stores, offices and theaters will be allowed to open fully May 19. But the cycles of violent retaliation fueled by individual shootings in recent months will be hard to break, said Jeffrey Butts, the director of the research and evaluation center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Other large cities, including Los Angeles and Philadelphia, also reported jumps in gun violence during the pandemic. Chicago, with about a third of the population of New York City, saw 865 shootings by the first weekend of this month, compared with about 550 in 2019 and 650 in 2020.