The Manhattan district attorney and the New York City Police Department on Thursday announced that two men have been charged with running an illegal gun trafficking ring that included the sale of firearms in Manhattan and the Bronx, many of which took place in broad daylight. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
As families enjoyed a day at the Bronx Zoo Thursday, police revealed that Last year, at around the same time, a man was selling guns to undercover police officers from his car parked right near the zoo's entrance on Southern Boulevard.
But why would officers go along with buying weapons from a criminal at such a popular place in the middle of the day?
"We try to direct them away from there, but if they're adamant, if that's their comfort level, unfortunately, to get the gun off, we will go there," said Inspector John Burke of the New York City Police Department.
The Manhattan district attorney said over several months last year, Javon Burgess, also known as "Black," sold 26 guns to undercovers. He also made deals in a McDonald's parking lot nearby. During the time, he was already facing a gun charge in Bronx court.
People who live in the area around the zoo said they're surprised that anyone would pick this location to sell guns.
"You can't blame police for doing their jobs," said one person. "It's a lot of crime out here with guns, so when police cracking down on guns, you can't get mad at them."
"They got kids around here, and, you know, people can get shot and that kind of stuff," said another. "I'm really bothered."
In a separate case, police say they also busted Paul Lee, known as "Gangsta," for allegedly selling weapons to undercovers, many times in Co-op City. Along with handguns, the two men allegedly sold Tec-9 assault weapons.
"These things have 30-round magazine capacity that can be fired off very rapidly, so these two in particular are of significant concern, and we're very happy to have got those before they, in fact, got out onto the street," said Police Commissioner William Bratton.
They're also happy to keep them out of the the hands of young people.
"We have intercepted thousands of messages between teens and different gangs, whether through Facebook or other modes of communication, that are talking among street crews looking for easy access to guns," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.
"I don't feel safe out here," said one person. "I think there's always something going on."
Police say if it's gun dealing, they're looking for it.