Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti said this week that the department is using all of its resources and calling on other agencies for assistance as cops struggle to get a grip on an escalating wave of gun violence in the city.
Speaking at a press conference at police headquarters Monday, Tinti described the recent shootings as “targeted attacks” and acknowledged that at least some of the violence was drug-related. Tinti made his remarks at a press conference at Kingston police headquarters with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer who was in town to call for action against untraceable “ghost guns.”
Tinti spoke as the greater Kingston area has been gripped by a series of shooting incidents. The recent spike in gun crimes began on Jan. 26 at 2:55 p.m. when an unidentified suspect fired three shots at a group of people in the rear parking lot of the Dunkin’ Donuts shop on Broadway. On Feb. 7 at 11:30 p.m., an unidentified man was shot and wounded in what police described as a robbery at the Dutcher mobile home park on Salem Street in Port Ewen. (The case is being investigated by the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office.) On Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m., 31-year-old Ashton Dixon was gunned down on a street in the Kingston Housing Authority’s Colonial Gardens apartment complex. Three days later, at 10:15 p.m. on Feb. 14, an unknown shooter opened fire on a home at 34 St. James Street. On Sunday, Feb. 16 at 5:20 a.m., police responded to another report of shots fired in the Kingston Housing Authority’s Rondout Gardens complex. Police say they were unable to locate any victims or bullet impacts in that case. No arrests have been made in any of the cases.
In addition to the most recent spike in gun violence, police are still working to solve two homicides and a nonfatal shooting that occurred in Midtown Kingston late last year. On Oct. 24, Daniel Thomas, 27, died of a gunshot wound to the face after he was attacked near the corner of Prospect and Cedar streets. On Nov. 1, 36-year-old Myron Moye was killed inside his home at 38 West O’Reilly St. On Dec. 29, an unidentified man was shot and wounded on Franklin Street.
“Guys who have been around 25 or 30 years say this is as bad as they’ve ever seen it,” said Kingston PBA President Brian Aitkin of the spike in gun violence. “Going all the way back to the ’90s and 2000’s.”
Not saying much
Police have released few details on any of the crimes, including whether they believe any of the incidents are related. On Monday, Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti said that detectives believed that all of the shootings were targeted attacks and that at least some of them were drug-related.
“These have been identified targets. It doesn’t make it right. There is no reason for these things to happen, it’s unfortunate that they happen,” said Tinti. “As far as the general public is concerned, certainly the events that have occurred, there’s drug involvement. There are issues within those components that make it targeted.”
At least two of the shooting victims had prior involvement with the criminal justice system. Thomas was convicted of drug sales and grand larceny in 2012 and served three years in state prison. Dixon was just 18 years old in 2007, when he was convicted on assault and weapons charges after he shot and wounded a bystander during a fight between rival gang members in Kingston. He served nearly 12 years in state prison before he was released on parole in October 2018. At the time, police said Dixon was a member of the “Sex Money Murder” faction of the Bloods gang. SMM members were behind a series of violent incidents in Midtown in the late 2000’s, culminating in the February 2010 murder of Charles King Jr. — allegedly to prevent him from testifying against an SMM member in a shooting case. Tinti declined to answer questions about gang involvement in the recent spate of shootings.
Tinti said the department was working the open cases with assistance from state police and the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office. In addition to investigative resources, Tinti said he had requested that both agencies step up uniformed patrols within the city to serve as a “visual deterrent” to further violence. Tinti added that police were also using resources from a regional crime analysis center in Orange County to generate leads based on cell phone and other electronic data as well as social media posts.
“We are bringing every resource we have to bear on this,” said Tinti.
Mayor: ‘It’s just a matter of time’
Mayor Steve Noble also addressed the violence at Monday’s press conference. Like Tinti, Noble declined to share specifics of the investigation, but said that he had been briefed on the situation. Noble said that he believed the 73-member police force, working in conjunction with outside agencies, had sufficient resources to address the rising tide of violence. But, Noble added, the department might be forced to shift resources away from community-oriented policing efforts to beef up investigative and traditional patrol functions.
“We are devoted to making sure the bad characters who are doing this are brought to justice,” said Noble. “It’s just a matter of time.”
Anyone with information on the unsolved cases is asked to contact Kingston Police at (845) 331-1671. Anonymous tips can be submitted using the department’s Tipline at (845) 331-4499 or the Submit a Tip app available on the KPD’s Facebook page.