Cindy Rodriguez is the Urban Policy reporter for New York Public Radio.
The NYPD said it may never know whose gun fired the bullet that killed a 56-year-old bystander in Crown Heights Monday night. Denise Gay was shot while sitting on her stoop with her daughter.
A ballistics report showed markings on the bullet were consistent with Glocks, the type of weapon police use; however,the bullet could not be matched to a specific gun. Ballistics experts say that's not surprising.
Lawrence Kobilinksy, chairman of the Science Department at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the markings left by Glocks are not distinct enough to tell one gun from another. “Balllistics with a Glock is very difficult,” said Kobilinsky.
According to ballistics experts, it’s easier to match or rule out other types of guns with barrels that leave heavier marks on bullets, such as the 9mm Ruger that was used by alleged shooter LeRoy Webster. Ballistics reports eliminated his gun as the weapon that killed Gay.
Officers involved in the shooting were being fired upon by Webster, who had just shot and killed another man, according to the NYPD. The shooting is still under investigation.
The fact that the bullet was damaged also makes it harder to match it to a weapon, said Pete Striupaitis, a forensic scientist and veteran firearm examiner. Striupaitis said further investigation should be able to determine whether the bullet ricocheted off another object before hitting Gay.
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s office said the shooting is on its radar as a matter of routine, but police are handling the investigation. Brooklyln DA spokesman Jerry Schmetterer said prosecutors only get involved if criminality is found. He added there’s no discussion of that right now.
In Crown Heights, where the shooting occurred, community leaders, elected officials and others held a press conference and vigil Thursday to denounce the rash of gun violence that occurred in the city over the Labor Day holiday weekend, where 67 people were injured in shootings between Friday and Monday.
In response to Gay’s death, vigil organizers said they were not there to cast blame on police, but instead wanted to draw attention to gun violence, not just in Crown Heights, but in neighborhoods throughout the city.
Amy Ellenbogen from the Save Our Streets Crown Heights Program said, “People here are really focused on stopping the violence no matter where it comes from.”