Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins gave an update today on the latest spate of fatal shootings.
Hawkins says the increase in violence across the city is “consistent throughout the major cities in the Capital Region.”
“So we had, obviously, three homicides in the city over the span of three or four days,” Hawkins said. “And we had three young men who were victims of some senseless, senseless violence in our city. Don’t have much to add right now in terms of updates, we have some promising leads.”
Hawkins says the six of the city’s 10 murders are rooted in domestic disputes while two were incidents when people were “clearly targeted.”
“And then we have these other two that we’re just trying to figure out what they are right now. We’ve got the one that happened this weekend on Hamilton Street, we’ve got some promising leads on that one, ” said Hawkins.
Just after 2 a.m. Sunday, officers were called to the 500 block of Hamilton Street between Ontario and Partridge Streets for reports of another shooting. Police say they found 25-year-old Benjamin Rowe outside with gunshot wounds to the torso. He was taken to Albany Med, where he was pronounced dead.
Rowe, well-known in the local music scene, was shot a block away from the troubled Madison Park neighborhood, which has seen an uptick in violent incidents over the past several years.
Rowe was a 2020 University at Albany grad who previously attended Guilderland High. A vigil was scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the corner of Quail Street and Hudson Avenue.
An hour before Rowe was shot officers responded to the area of Myrtle Avenue and Philip Streets where they found 28-year-old Deandre Morrison with gunshot wounds to the torso. He too was taken to Albany Med, where he was pronounced dead.
18-year-old Javone Sims was shot and killed during the noon hour Thursday along Third Street.
10th ward Common Councilor Owusu Anane says people in every zip code are shocked by the uptick in murders and violence, which he says needs to be addressed with urgency.
“I think that it all stems from leadership, whether it starts from the mayor’s office, to the police chief to all the leaders in our community, we have to come together to root out this violence that is plaguing our community,” Anane said. “Even if it’s a domestic dispute that ends in a fatal accident, we need to take it seriously.”
Hawkins calls it “unacceptable.”
“We can arrest all these people that we want, we can take all these guns off the street. But until we break this cycle, we’re going to continuously be here,” said Hawkins.
The chief stresses he is looking for long-term solutions.
“I think that if we can stop the supply of individuals who are traumatized in our community, and we can help those who may be getting to a place where they may enter this, this trauma,” Hawkins said. “I think if we can deal with that on the front end, that it I think is one of the best crime prevention strategies that any community can have. Because a person who has the mentality that they’re going to shoot and kill someone for minor dispute or because of a domestic relationship issue, that person has, they have a mentality that is just spiraled out of control.”
Hawkins notes the city is strengthening its partnership with Albany County Mental Health as it works to identify residents who need help.
“There are some people in our society that are so bad, that they need to be taken out of society, put into a place where they cannot harm others,” said Hawkins. “That’s the reality of our world. So the ones you’re talking about that are in that space? There’s no way we’re going to convince them to be good girls or good guys. No, no way we can. But my message is, we can help our community to help some of those who haven’t reached that point yet.”
Mayor Kathy Sheehan issued a statement which says in part “One obvious way residents can help prevent gun violence is to remove guns from the equation. We continue to urge residents to notify APD when they know someone has an illegal gun or when someone who has a legal gun is a danger to themselves or others.”