By Colleen Long Associated Press
NEW YORK — Four people were shot and dozens were arrested today in a mile-long stretch of Manhattan near Times Square in mayhem following the city’s annual auto show, police said.
A group of teenagers and young adults ran amok, squaring off against one another and harassing pedestrians along a one-mile stretch of midtown near the Jacob A. Javits Center, where the New York International Auto Show is held, police said.
Chief NYPD spokesman Paul J. Browne said additional officers were on patrol because similar problems have happened during past auto shows.
“Young men looking for trouble afterwards,” he said of those arrested. “There have been incidents over the years. It’s something we watch over and we prepare for it in advance.”
Four people were arrested related to the shootings — three males ages 17 to 23 and a teenage girl — and investigators were still working to identify the gunmen. Fifty other people were arrested, mostly on charges of disorderly conduct.
Police described those arrested as mostly teens and young adults who live in the city’s outer boroughs. Browne said some of them “could be gang members, but we haven’t seen this as a gang initiation.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg described the night’s events as “wilding.”
“We loaded the area up with police, but they can’t be everywhere,” he said. “We’re not going to tolerate it. … This is just a bunch of people who shouldn’t be on the streets if they behave this way and we’re not going to stand for it.”
There were no reports of tourists or business-owners being attacked.
Police weren’t sure how many of those arrested knew each other or what sparked the shootings that began shortly after midnight.
A man was shot in the ankle at Eighth Avenue and 40th Street around 12:10 a.m. Shortly after, a woman was hit with a BB gun several blocks northeast at Seventh Avenue and 51st Street. About two hours later, two women were shot — one in the elbow and another in the thigh — near Seventh Avenue and 34th Street.
All four were in stable condition, police said.
It was the second major instance of gunfire in the area in recent months, where police have worked for years to stop petty crimes and hustlers targeting tourists. Police and a street hustler armed with a machine pistol exchanged shots in December in Times Square — shattering a Broadway theater ticket window and scattering crowds — before police shot the man dead.
Overall, crime in the city continues to decrease despite an uptick in murders, felony assaults and rapes.
Auto show spokesman Chris Sams said no one stood out as suspicious at the show Sunday.
“We had an amazing crowd, a very family-oriented crowd. The type of person who makes an auto show great, people listening to the presenters,” he said.
Sams said security at the show is tight, and officials work with police. Visitors are checked when they arrive.
The auto show runs until April 11 and shows the latest and greatest in automobiles, from the smallest car on the U.S. market, an $11,900 Smart Fortwo, to a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe costing $518,800. The show was expected to attract more than 1 million people — the largest attendance of any auto show in the country.