In response to two recent homicides, the Binghamton Police Department has pledged to utilize a number of “proactive policing measures” to close current cases and de-escalate instances of violence.
“We will allocate additional resources to both investigative efforts and neighborhood patrols to send a very clear message that violence is not tolerated in our community,” said Binghamton Mayor Rich David at a press conference at City Hall on Monday.
On April 22, 22-year-old Brandon Hernandez was shot dead in the parking lot of an after-hours club near the corner of Orton Avenue and Main Street on the West Side. Jihad Ray has been charged with second-degree murder in the incident. Ray, 26, is a former member of the MacBallers, a branch of the Bloods gang. Less than a week later, on April 28, 24-year-old Tyquan Gumbs was shot and killed on Fayette Street in Downtown Binghamton. The suspects in that shooting remain at large.
The murders are the third and fourth in Binghamton this year. From January to December 2016, five homicides were recorded in the city. In 2015 and 2014, the numbers were eight and two, respectively.
Binghamton Police Department Chief Joseph Zikuski said the department believes the shootings are gang-related and connected to each other.
“This is not isolated; these are not random,” he said. “These are some people that know each other and have a beef for some reason. The Binghamton Police Department nor the mayor is going to tolerate these thugs shooting up our streets, whether they’re shooting themselves or innocent bystanders. We’re not going to let them carry on the way they’ve been carrying on.”
David said the heightened measures will include more patrols in hotspot areas, additional detective squad personnel and further efforts that could not be shared publicly.
According to Zikuski, the short amount of time between incidents makes them unique.
“I’ve been here 38 years and I don’t ever remember two homicides in six days,” he said. “I don’t think it’s ever happened like this before.”