NEW YORK, March 14 — Police in New York have appealed to the public to help identify a man who shot at least two homeless people Saturday, killing one of them as he slept on the street.

“The cases are clear and horrific,” said Mayor Eric Adams, a former police officer, as he urged any witnesses to come forward.

A suspect first fired on a 38-year-old man in Lower Manhattan early Saturday, wounding but not killing him, investigators said.

Then, shortly before 5:00pm (2200 GMT), police in the same neighbourhood found the lifeless body of another man in a sleeping bag. He had been shot in the head and neck.

Video surveillance footage captured that attack, showing the suspect firing at the second man as he slept around 6:00am, shortly after the first shooting.

Sunday night, local media reported a third man appeared to have been attacked. 

That man, who also seemed to be homeless, was found dead in the city around 7pm local time (2300 GMT) with a “possible gunshot wound,” NBC New York reported, citing police. 

Adams, a Democrat, described the shootings as senseless attacks on two people “sleeping on the streets — not committing a crime, but sleeping on the streets.”

He and the police urged New York’s thousands of homeless people to contact city agencies that can help them find sleeping accommodations.

New York’s homeless population has grown in recent years, and Adams announced a plan just weeks after taking office in January to move them out of the city’s vast system of subway tunnels, where many sleep on frigid nights.

His proposal drew sharp criticism from some non-governmental organizations.

“People only stay in the subway,” said the Coalition for the Homeless, “because they have no better place to go.” — AFP