A quick-thinking Manhattan homeless man likely saved his own life when he scared off a gunman who shot him by pretending to call 911 — despite not having a phone.
The gunman went on to shoot another sleeping homeless man to death just an hour later, and now cops are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
The surviving victim, a 38-year-old man, was sleeping on King St. in Hudson Square when he awoke to the sensation of a bullet tearing through his right forearm about 5 a.m. Saturday, cops said.
“What are you doing?” he screamed when he saw the shooter, wearing all black including a black mask, still pointing the gun at him.
The victim jumped up and faked putting a phone to his ear even though he has no cellphone and said he was calling the police, sources said.
The spooked gunman ran off east on King St., while the victim scrambled to a nearby red emergency reporting system box attached to a pole on Varick St.
The gunman found his second target about 6 a.m. on Howard St. near Lafayette St. He shot the sleeping man bundled in a sleeping bag in the head and neck and ran off west on Howard St.
The victim was discovered dead in the sleeping bag almost 11 hours later. Cops were still working to determine his identity Sunday.
The NYPD announced Sunday it is offering a $10,000 reward for help catching the sadistic shooter, a young thin Black man, about 5-foot-4, wearing all black including a black mask. Cops released surveillance images of the gunman Saturday.
After the shootings, a task force of police officers and homeless outreach workers will patrol the subway system and locations where homeless people stay to encourage them to sleep in city-run shelters, Mayor Adams said Saturday.
But on Sunday, there was another chilling alert. After a 911 call about a shooting victim in TriBeCa, police found a 43-year-old man unconscious in his sleeping bag on Murray St. near Greenwich St. about 6:30 p.m. with an injury to his right leg, police said. EMS responded and pronounced the man dead; the Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death.
It was not immediately clear when the victim was shot nor if the slaying was linked to Saturday’s attacks. Adams has been alerted to Sunday’s killing, the mayor’s press secretary said in a tweet.
Police believe the shooter is the same man who shot three homeless men in Washington D.C. earlier this month, the NYPD said in a statement.
The serial shooter has the same method of operating as a gunman in the nation’s capital, who shot three homeless men in separate incidents on March 3, March 8 and March 9.
The first two victims in D.C. are expected to recover, but the March 9 victim died of multiple gunshot and stab wounds, police said.
The NYPD, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have launched a joint task force and are investigating the killings.
“Our homeless population is one of our most vulnerable and an individual praying on them as they sleep is an exceptionally heinous crime,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said in a statement. “We will use every tool, every technique and every partner to bring the killer to justice.”
The shootings come more than two years after Randy Rodriguez Santos was accused of bludgeoning four homeless men to death with a pipe in Chinatown in October 2019. Santos, who was also homeless, is locked up on Rikers Island as he awaits trial.
Anyone with information about Saturday’s shootings is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.