CHELSEA, Manhattan (WABC) -- A man was shot and killed outside a luxury hotel in Manhattan early Thursday, just steps from the Chelsea Market and New York's Meatpacking District
Police say 25-year-old Byron Morales, of Brooklyn, was gunned down just after midnight outside the Dream Hotel on West 16th Street between 8th and 9th avenues.
Morales may have just left Tao Downtown Restaurant, located next door, and authorities say there was some type of dispute outside of the club that led to the shooting.
He was struck in the torso and rushed to Lenox Hill HealthPlex, where he later died.
The motive remains unclear.
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With clubs reopening and businesses allowed to stay open past midnight, there were several witnesses who saw the aftermath.
"There's just too much crime in the city these days, they have to increase police funding," one witness said. "There's just too much violence going on in the city now. It's a reminder of the old days, we have to increase security in the city. It's sad, it's scary."
There are no arrests at this time, and the investigation is ongoing.
"NYPD is doing more gun arrests than ever before," Mayor Bill de Blasio said when asked about the surge in gun violence. "Communities are working more closely with the NYPD again. We're going to turn this around."
The suspect is described a light skinned Black man in his 20s, approximately 5-foot-6, last seen wearing a red and white baseball cap and white T-shirt, and carrying a cross body bag.
Police are looking for a white Jeep Cherokee with a temporary plate that fled with the gunmen and up to three other men inside.
The Jeep is on surveillance video that police have recovered
Morales is reportedly known by the police as a gang member, though he only has one prior arrests on record.
In August of 2020, he was arrested during a traffic stop in Brooklyn for possession of stolen credit cards, counterfeit bills, and marijuana.
Shootings are taking place in every corner of New York, from Bushwick, Brooklyn to the Rockaways, from Times Square to Chelsea.
"What I say to people, the pandemic didn't cause this," said Professor Jeffrey Butts, with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "The pandemic helped spark the fire."
Still, he too believes the tide will turn.
"I think we'll get there," he said. "I think as the pandemic subsides, as those neighborhoods fill up again, as sidewalks become full of people, it'll change that environment that causes people to think they could get away with shooting."
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