New York City cracking down on illegal fireworks, homeless man hurt

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City announced a multi-agency crackdown on illegal fireworks Tuesday, after people shooting them off in neighborhoods across the city has been a rampant problem for several weeks.

Video from around 4 a.m. Monday shows one of the recent incidents, in which two men are seen throwing a firework at a 66-year-old homeless man who was sleeping.

The firework then explodes. The NYPD is investigating, saying the man is in stable condition. A $2,500 reward is being offered for information that could lead to an arrest.

It is just one of more than 13,000 complaints involving illegal fireworks received by the city this month -- compared to just 32 between June 1 and June 22 in 2019 -- leaving many fed up and sparking a drive-by protest with horns honking outside Gracie Mansion overnight.

In response, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the creation of a task force to crack down on illegal fireworks sales.

WATCH: Mayor de Blasio announces illegal fireworks crackdown
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Raw Video: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announces a multi-agency crackdown on illegal fireworks displays and suppliers.

"It's more than we've ever seen it," he said. "Illegal fireworks are both dangerous and a public nuisance. We're cracking down on this activity at the source to ensure the safety of all New Yorkers and the ability of our neighbors to get some sleep."

The task force will target suppliers, distributors and possessors of large quantities of illegal fireworks by conducting investigations and sting operations within and outside of New York City to disrupt supply chains. The FDNY will also launch a public safety campaign, including public service announcements and social media, to illustrate the dangers of illegal fireworks.

The task force will consist of 10 officers from NYPD Intelligence Bureau, 12 FDNY Fire Marshals and 20 members of the Sheriff's Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

"For any number of reasons, the use of illegal firework has skyrocketed this year and that has damaged the quality of life in our neighborhoods," Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said. "The NYPD will continue to work closely with our city partners to address this dangerous issue."
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The man who took the video told Eyewitness News he was driving home Saturday night when he saw a group of people coming around the corner setting off the fireworks.

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