NEW YORK » Shot in the head as he walked home from the gym with a friend Friday, Eric Roman succumbed to his wounds a day later.
His killing, officially recorded Saturday, might have escaped wide notice had it not ended a streak of 12 days without a homicide in New York City, believed by police officials to be the longest such run since at least the 1990s.
Toward the end of last week, top police officials, including Commissioner William J. Bratton, began buzzing about the absence of killings.
"We don’t want to jinx it," Bratton said in a television interview Friday. Some dared to imagine a month without a killing before immediately shrugging it off as impossible.
As criminologists and the police have long known, crime has a tendency to cluster and spike, and violence almost always ebbs in the winter. The city’s last streak of at least 10 days without a homicide also occurred in a February – as did other similar stretches – when temperatures drop.
With the temperature expected to reach a record low Monday, this year’s streak might have lasted well into the middle of the week, one police official said ruefully Sunday, had it not been for Roman’s killing and another death in Queens on Saturday. In that case, which has yet to be ruled a homicide, a 56-year-old man was found dead in his basement with head trauma.
Detectives were questioning a man who had credit cards belonging to the victim, whose name had yet to be officially released. The police said the man, who has no listed address, admitted to knowing the victim from doing odd jobs around the victim’s home. He was taken into custody at a nearby gas station where he was offering to pump gas for drivers, to spare them the cold, in exchange for a few dollars.
The police were waiting on a ruling by the city medical examiner’s office on whether it was a homicide.
In the case of Roman, the confrontation that led to his death began just before noon Friday. He and a friend were approached by two men on the sidewalk outside Roman’s home on Woodhaven, according to police.
One of the men pistol-whipped the friend, who then fled, the police said. The friend heard gunfire and returned to find Roman, 28, wounded on the steps of his home and the two men speeding off in a black Mercedes sedan, the police said.
Roman, struck in the hand, leg and head, died Saturday at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens. No arrests have been made.
The last homicide before that was on Feb. 1, when two people were killed in separate shootings in the Bronx and Harlem.
Whatever caused the 12-day streak – luck, weather, coincidence – it bucked for a time the trend of rising shootings in the city. Through Saturday, 136 people had been shot in 117 shootings, compared with 110 victims in 100 shootings through the same period in 2014.
David Goodman, New York Times