NYC transit system sees massive increase in murder, violence since 2020

The three murders so far this year mean that the city is already on track to surpass last year's total in subway killings.

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
Data shows that more people have been killed on New York City's subway transit system since the start of 2020 than in the 15 years prior.

The New York Police Department has raised alarming concerns about the upward trend after the start of 2024 kicked off with historic violent crime rates on the Big Apple's subway systems. This despite an increase in officer staffing and surveillance measures on the city's transit system, which had been implemented in an attempt to deter criminal activity.

Since the start of 2020, records show that NYPD recorded 32 murders in subway trains and stations. To compare, the department recorded a total of 31 murders between 2005 and 2019.

This year is already off to a bad start, with three recorded subway murders since February. In 2023, there were a total of five subway murders recorded. The three murders so far this year mean that the city is already on track to surpass last year's total in subway killings.

Michael Kemper, NYPD Transit Chief, warned during a press conference last month following the killing of a 45-year-old subway passenger that crime had increased by 45 percent in January compared to the year prior, per Gothamist.

"Look, our cops are out there, they're visible," Kemper said. "Our riders, I know they see them. [Officers are] riding trains, they're on platforms, they're engaging with acts of lawlessness every single day."

During a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board meeting last month, MTA chair Janno Lieber chalked up the increase in subway crime as not much of a big deal, despite the alarming statistics.

“On average, last year, we had six felony crimes a day in a ridership of 4 million," said Lieber. “I'm not going to argue about the statistics. I'm just saying that we need to push back on both the reality and the perception of crime.”

“We're not going to tell New Yorkers don't be concerned when there's a shooting, but overall crime that the trajectory is crime is down versus last year in the month of February," he continued. "And with the NYPD's surge of personnel we're hopeful that's going to stay there."

Lieber said that NYC has installed more than 1,000 surveillance cameras on the trains, as well as cameras in all 472 stations.

The expense of this surge is borne by taxpayers. As previously reported by Gothamist, the New York Police Department spent $155 million on overtime for subway security in 2022, despite only a 2 percent decline in significant crimes committed on the trains.

On Jan. 14, Richie Henderson, 45, was shot and killed while riding a 3 train in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Henderson was trying to break up a fight over loud music when he was shot to death. Police are still searching for the suspect.

On Feb. 12, Obed Beltran-Sanchez, 35, was shot and killed aboard a 4 train just as it reached the Mount Eden Avenue station. Beltran-Sanchez, an immigrant from Mexico, was killed in the crossfire when two teens started firing gunshots on the platform following a dispute. A 16-year-old suspect has been arrested in connection to the shooting.

On Feb. 23, another 45-year-old male victim was shot and killed at a Bronx subway station just as a southbound D train pulled into the station on 182nd Street and Grand Concourse in Fordham Heights. The three suspects have not yet been arrested, but surveillance footage picked up images and NYPD is hoping to make arrests.
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