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Shaken Manhattan students return one day after shootings near three city schools

By Cayla Bamberger, Thomas Tracy, Larry McShane, New York Daily News,

2023-03-15

Uneasy Manhattan high school students returned to classes Wednesday under increased NYPD scrutiny after a classmate was wounded one day earlier in one of three gang-related shootings.

The police presence was obvious at Martin Luther King Jr. High School on the Upper West Side, with arriving students still shaken by the Tuesday morning shooting of a 17-year-old boy — the first of three Manhattan incidents in five hours near city schools.

“After what happened yesterday, I don’t know anymore,” said an MLK senior arriving Wednesday morning. “Nowhere is safe. They should have more precautions at the school. It is a big deal.

“I was scared,” she continued. “I had went in 20 minutes after that happened, it’s like, damn. It’s crazy. This is ridiculous. My parents were kind of worried, shocked about it, saw my school on the news.”

City Schools Chancellor David Banks cited an uptick in the number of armed students, with more incidents happening around the corner or across the street from city schools — like the MLK shooting.

“What has increased is the number of weapons that our kids have brought to school,” said Banks. “That has increased dramatically, but not necessarily the number of incidents in the schools.”

Police were investigating a connection between the shootings and an ongoing gang rivalry between two Harlem crews in the Lincoln Houses and the Taft Houses, a source told the Daily News.

An MLK junior expressed his fears when arriving at the school, where a half-dozen NYPD officers gathered on the sidewalk 24 hours after a 19-year-old was arrested for shooting the 17-year-old student twice in the abdomen Tuesday morning.

Police later reported a pair of related shootings in East Harlem as the day went on.

“Makes me feel on edge, a little shocked,” said the MLK junior. “First time I’ve ever experienced this.”

The student said his parents were just as unnerved by the Tuesday gunfire, with suspect Cheick Coulibalys arrested as he tried to flee in a yellow cab.

“They were definitely worried about me,” said the student. “They were calling me. I had a ton of missed calls from them.”

The accused shooter, a Manhattan resident, was charged with attempted murder, assault, criminal use of a firearm and criminal possession of a weapon, officials said.

NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell promised a police surge at schools in the wake of the shootings, with authorities believing all three incidents were connected.

The second school-related shooting quickly ensued Tuesday, with a 16-year-old and a bystander both shot in East Harlem just three hours later outside the Harlem Renaissance School. And the last incident occurred at 105th St and Park Ave., with four shell casings found at the scene, but no reports of injuries near a third school. There have been no arrests in the latter two incidents.

Coulibalys was a student at the Harlem school, sources told The News.

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