By Barbara Goldberg
NEW YORK (Reuters) – More New York police officers will patrol Times Square after a shooting last weekend that injured three people, including a child, the mayor said on Monday as he sought to reassure visitors that the city is safe as it reopens after the yearlong coronavirus pandemic.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the New York Police Department would add an unspecified number of officers from the Critical Response Command, one of the force’s first lines of defense against a terrorist attack, to patrols in Times Square, a popular tourist attraction.
“We’re putting additional NYPD resources in the Times Square area to add an extra measure of protection,” de Blasio said. “It will be use of our CRC officers in Times Square. You’ll see additional presence.”
Police on Monday were still searching for a man they identified as a “person of interest” in the shooting that wounded innocent bystanders just before 5 p.m. Friday local time. The attack stemmed from a domestic dispute, authorities said.
Among those wounded was a child from Brooklyn whose family brought her to Times Square to buy toys, said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. She and the two other victims – a 23-year-old female tourist from Rhode Island and a 43-year-old woman from New Jersey – were not related to one another or to the shooting itself, Shea said.
The 4-year-old and 23-year-old were shot in the leg and the 43-year-old was shot in the foot, Shea said.
Times Square, which had a reputation for seediness in the 1970s and 80s, has more recently burnished its image and drawn tourists to “the Crossroads of the World,” as a result of soaring property values and gentrification.
After COVID-19 forced a year-long shutdown of New York, once the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, de Blasio has vowed to “fully reopen” the city by July 1.
The shooting, he said, will not affect tourism.
“In the end, people want to come to this city. It is an overwhelmingly safe city. When you look at New York compared to cities around the country, around the world, this is a very safe place.”
Tourism in New York is already picking up faster than anticipated, de Blasio said.
“People are starting to come here much earlier than I thought they would. I thought it would go into the summer before we would see that kind of comeback. It’s happening now,” the mayor said.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)