New York said goodbye to 2009 and kicked off the decade with a rough 48 hours that included a murder suicide, a crotch stabbing, and a teenage knife fight.
Last year, New York City reported about 463 homicides, an 11% decline from the previous year and the smallest number of murders since the police department began keeping records in 1963. Mayor Bloomberg touted those numbers last week, but on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, there were five homicides in the five boroughs— approximately double the number of killings that occurred in the city during an average two day span in 2009.
The holiday violence began about three hours before midnight on New Year's Eve when a 43 year-old Malaysian construction worker reportedly shot himself and his 41 year-old girlfriend in the head at their apartment on Sands Street by the base of the Brooklyn Bridge.
New York's first murder victim of the new decade was Kirk Holgate, a 21 year-old father of a 2 year-old girl, who died after being "stabbed several times" in the groin outside a party at an East New York barbershop at about 3 in the morning on New Year's day. Ouch.
About two hours later, according to police reports a 28 year-old man "walked into" the 81st Precinct in Bed Stuy "with a gunshot wound to the face." The man was taken to King's County Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
The last reported murder on New Year's Day occurred shortly after noon when an argument between two teenagers turned deadly in the fourth floor hallway of an apartment building in Queens. Seventeen year-old Starsheema Lynn died after being stabbed once in the chest with a steak knife after police say she was "embroiled in a dispute... that escalated" with another young woman. Police told the New York Times that the fight began "over some type of property." Nineteen year-old Mary Herron, who lived in the building, was arrested at the scene.
The NYPD says they can't say whether or not New Year's is an especially dangerous time in New York. Sgt. Hayes of the Police Department's public information office told us "we don't do a day-by-day comparison, so I wouldn't be able to answer that for you." Hayes says "looking at one day or a 24 hour time period isn't an accurate indication" and he pointed to the recent annual drop in crime.
There isn't much available information about New Year's murders in New York City, but the defunct New York Sun reported that there were four homicides "during the early hours" of New Year's Day 2008, nearly triple the average for that year. Though crime has been steadily dropping in New York City, it would make sense that the heavy binge drinking and partying during New Year's would lead to a temporary spike in the crime rate. Hopefully, the New Year's homicides are just a holiday-specific phenomenon and not an indication of bad things to come next year.