BRONX, New York (WABC) -- The effort to slow the rise in violent crime in New York City took another step forward today, as authorities announced nearly two dozen arrests in a gang investigation in the Bronx.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark joined NYPD officials to announce an indictment charging 20 alleged gang members in 32 acts of violence including fatal and non-fatal shootings.
All the incidents happened in the Bronx. Police say 18 guns were recovered in the investigation.
The news comes as investigators identified a person of interest involved in the fatal shooting of a 61-year-old grandmother in the Bronx this week.
Police officials say the number of homicides is down. But with recent high-profile shootings, the NYPD says there is plenty of work to be done.
Overall crime is up 36% in New York City compared to this time last year, according to new statistics released by the department.
"I will tell you unequivocally, our police officers and detectives are fully engaged," NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said Wednesday.
NYPD officials released the statistics amid some high-profile homicides.
Earlier this week, an innocent woman was struck and killed by a stray bullet, while two weeks ago, an innocent 12-year-old boy was gunned down.
There were fewer murders last month in the nation's largest city compared to March 2021, but shootings, robberies, car thefts, and burglaries were up in March compared to the same month a year earlier.
Police made more than 400 gun-related arrests last month and touted the successful takedowns of violent offenders.
Crime in the subways decreased, but transit-related crime overall increased, completing a mixed picture for the police as the Adams administration approaches its first 100 days.
"The NYPD will continue to provide fair, effective, and responsive policing that best reflects the needs of the communities we serve," Sewell said. "But the NYPD needs the steadfast commitment of all its partners, pulling in the same direction, to realize our goal of public safety for every New Yorker."
Shootings are up 16%, driven, police say, by gang activity and narcotics. Roughly half of all shootings have occurred in 10 precincts, half of them in the Bronx.
This week, a 61-year-old grandmother just walking down the block was shot and killed during a gunfight involving two groups.
Juana Soriano De-Perdomo's sons spoke out about their family's grief at a vigil for their beloved mother.
"My mother was a beautiful person," Eric Soriano De-Perdomo said. "She was receiving blessings on blessings on blessings these last couple of months, and it was just taken away, cold-hearted no reason."
Police are putting up flyers in the neighborhood, looking for tips as they search for the suspects behind this deadly violence. There is now a $3,500 reward for information that might lead to an arrest in that case.
On Wednesday night in the Bronx, violence interrupters rallied for an end to the bloodshed at the spot where the 61-year-old grandmother was killed.
These groups are charged with helping mediate disputes on the street, but they couldn't stop Monday night's shooting and they've done little to control the violence that's metastasized across the city.
They promise progress, but violence interrupters say it won't happen without the community and everyday New Yorkers stepping up.
Twelve-year-old Kade Lewin was shot and killed while eating in a parked car last week in Brooklyn.
His cousin, 19-year-old Jenna Ellis, was in the driver's seat and was also shot. She remains in critical condition.
Police believe the shooting may have been a case of mistaken identity, and the gunman remains on the loose.
Anyone with information is urged to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit tips by visiting the CrimeStoppers website at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org or by messaging on Twitter @NYPDTips.