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Police Presence to Increase in Times Square after Shooting of a 2nd Lieutenant

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Although he was not the intended target, a 21-year-old man was shot during an altercation in Times Square.

What We Know:

  • Sunday evening, a group of vendors got into an altercation near Broadway and one pulled out a gun and started to fire off shots. One of the alleged gunman’s bullets struck Samuel Poulin in the back, while he was standing near a Starbucks with family. NBC New York reported that a family member was able to remove the bullet from Poulin’s back and give it to law enforcement for evidence. Poulin was able to stand on his own and was then taken to Bellevue Hospital for treatment.
  • Poulin graduated from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, this year as a 2nd Lieutenant. While attending the school he showcased leadership qualities, was a President List cadet, and graduated with a degree in Physics. Gen. Glenn M. Walters, president of The Citadel, posted on Twitter that Poulin is in stable condition.

  • This shooting is the 2nd shooting in a month to happen in Times Square. On May 8th, a fight broke out amongst a group of guys and one of them pulled out a gun and began to shoot. A 4-year-old little girl, along with a 23-year-old woman, was shot in the leg. A 43-year-old woman was shot in the foot and all three victims were taken to Bellevue Hospital. The little girl underwent a successful surgery and the other two remained in stable condition. The gunman, Farrakhan Muhammad, 31, was arrested days later in Florida.
  • According to the New York Times, as of June 20th, close to 800 people have been shot in New York City. There have been almost 700 shootings in the area and a 48% increase in victims. Mayor Bill de Blasio believes there is a pattern of shootings in Times Square and he plans on addressing it aggressively, stating, “it’s just an unacceptable state of affairs. This is a place that is so precious and so important to our city – it has to be safe.”
  • The NYPD has released footage of Sunday’s alleged gunman walking around Times Square after the shooting.

  • Due to the increase in shootings in Times Square, the NYPD’s Chief of Department, Rodney Harrison and de Blasio revealed the Times Square Safety Action Plan. This plan will place over 50 new officers, as well as undercover ones, into the area to help curb gun violence. They believe one of the biggest issues in the area is the “soliciting and aggressive panhandling of CDs.” De Blasio plans on “flooding” the zone with officers, in order to make the popular tourist area safe.

No arrests have been made yet in connection to Sunday’s shooting, nor have NYPD been able to locate the gun that was used. Harrison and de Blasio’s new policing plan went into effect Monday.

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black Alerts and the host of Boss Mornings and Unmuted Nation. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

Crime

Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack

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Howard University officials along with leading cyber experts are trying to assess what has been compromised in an active ransomware, cyberattack on the HBCU campus. Officials have deemed the attack criminal.

What We Know:

  • Monday, the university issued a statement to faculty and students that “the service disruption was caused by a ransomware cyberattack against the university.”
  • Classes have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Students have been notified that online and hybrid classes will remain canceled and only essential staff will be allowed on campus. All in-person undergraduate, graduate, professional, and clinical experiential courses will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.
  • A ransomware attack can be triggered by simple, everyday activity. Opening a unintended link inside of can lead to a cyberattack.  Computer, tablet and phone users are encouraged to change their passwords and security questions regularly.

Howard University is home to several notable high profile Black alumni such as Chadwick Boseman and Phylicia Rashad.

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Crime

New Orleans 911 Operator Wanted After Allegedly Disconnecting Calls on Purpose

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A New Orleans 911 operator deliberately disconnected emergency calls without obtaining necessary information or relaying the callers’ emergencies to other dispatchers, and she is now facing arrest, according to authorities.

What We Know:

  • Precious Stephens, 25, is wanted on a count of malfeasance in office, and she remained at large Thursday, police said. She has been fired from her job as a 911 operator, officials said.

“(The district) has and will continue to cooperate with the … investigation into this matter and dedicated to providing any and all assistance to aid in (the) efforts.”

  • Stephens worked for the Orleans Parish Communication District, which dispatches first responders to 911 calls. On Aug. 24, the district reported to police that Stephens had deliberately disconnected 911 calls without obtaining vital information or informing other dispatchers about the callers who were in need of help.  The district conducted an investigation into the quality of a random set of calls when they detected the problems with Stephens during her shifts Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, officials said.  A statement from the district highlighted how its own internal protocols identified the issues with Stephens, who was immediately turned over to police and dismissed from her post.

Police asked anyone who knows where Stephens is to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. Tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.

Louisiana law defines malfeasance in office as unlawfully performing a job in public service. It can carry up to five years in prison.

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Crime

R&B Star R. Kelly Jurors Summoned for Sex Trafficking Trial

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The first phase of R. Kelly‘s trial began on Aug. 9 with a jury selection after several delays.

What We Know:

  • U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly asked potential jurors if they could keep an open mind about Kelly as he faces charges for abusing women and girls for nearly two decades. Donnelly also reminded jurors that Kelly was presumed innocent, so they should not feel influenced by any bad publicity the singer experienced because of the accusations.
  • Due to pandemic restrictions, the event took place online. Because of this, Kelly and the jurors faced difficulty popping up on the screen and the audio cut off at times.
  • During the trial, jurors will expect to hear testimonies from several of Kelly’s accusers. In addition, a judge ruled that officials may only use the women’s first names. Currently, Kelly faces sex trafficking charges. Scrutiny around Kelly’s sexual behavior has followed him for decades. These include charges for child pornography. Alongside the sex-trafficking case in New York, Kelly also faces sex-related charges against him in Illinois and Minnesota.
  • In addition, prosecutors might provide evidence that Kelly schemed with others to buy a fake ID for late R&B singer Aaliyah. In 1994, when Aaliyah was only 15, Kelly married and began a sexual relationship with her; it is also speculated he impregnated her. Prosecutors believe he married her so that she could not testify against him.
  • In regards to his sex-trafficking trial, Kelly denies any wrongdoing; he has pleaded not guilty to leading a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards, and other employees who recruited women and girls for sex. Concerning the criminal enterprise, federal prosecutors reported the group found victims at concerts and other venues. After recruiting the women and children, they would make travel arrangements so they could meet with Kelly. Kelly’s lawyers claimed the victims were “groupies” who showed up at his concerts and “were dying to be with” Kelly.

The case is scheduled to officially begin on Aug. 18 with opening statements.

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