Auto Show Draws Gunfire

Erin Ennis

Four people were shot and dozens of people were arrested Monday in Manhattan near Times Square in mayhem following the city’s annual auto show, police said. The mile long stretch, which was crowded with tourists and New Yorkers alike, became the spot of near disaster as police flooded the streets to stop the violence.

A group of teenagers harassed pedestrians near the Jacob A. Javits Center, where the New York International Auto Show is held. Chief NYPD spokesman Paul J. Browne said additional officers were on patrol due to the sheer nature of the show. In past years, it was not uncommon to find trouble lurking between the old cars, tourists, and vendor food.

“Young men looking for trouble afterwards,” he said of those arrested. “There have been incidents over the years. It’s something we watch over and we prepare for it in advance.” The police made 54 arrests, mostly on charges of disorderly conduct. The relationships between those arrested are still incredibly unclear, and the New York City Police Department has yet to draw a connection between those arrested and the spark of violence. While four people were shot, the cause or motive for the shooting is still generally unknown.

A man was shot in the ankle at Eighth Avenue and 40th Street around 12:10 a.m. Shortly after, a woman was hit with a BB gun several blocks away. About two hours later, two women were shot: one in the elbow and another in the thigh.

The shootings represent the second major instance of gunfire in the area in recent months due to tourist harassment and large scale events. The NYPD and an armed man exchanged shots on Broadway in December after he heckled a large group of ticket-buying women. The police warn weary travelers to not shy away from the city, however, and claim they have the violent situation under control. Auto show spokesman Chris Sams said no one stood out as suspicious at the show Sunday.

The auto show runs until Apr. 11 and shows the latest and greatest in automobiles, from the smallest car on the U.S. market, an $11,900 Smart Fortwo, to a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe costing $518,800. The show was expected to attract more than 1 million people — the largest attendance of any auto show in the country. While spokesman Sams is slightly worried that the violence will draw away the crowd, he urges individuals to come brave the New York City streets anyway. Sams spoke that “security remains tight” despite the problems and order has returned to New York’s Times Square since the shooting.