Thanksgiving wasn’t a day of quiet reflection for everybody. For a group of gamblers in a basement in NYC’s Chinatown, it meant the scare of a lifetime.
It happened when three men stormed into the room, waving guns and demanding any valuables – that turned out to be a significant amount of cash and jewelry – from those in the room. Most of the gamblers were of Chinese descent and over 60 years old. According to the NYPD, the armed men left with over $5000 in property and money.
In addition to people playing a card game, there were a number of people watching and apparently waiting their turn for a go and a chance to win. The men who stormed in seemed to know exactly where they were and what was happening, and started immediately waving a gun and a knife, screaming for people to turn over any valuables, including anything they had in their pockets.
Because there was a camera in the basement, police have been able to share images of the robbers, and are asking people to call if they have any information about their identities or whereabouts. So far, the search has proven fruitless and the crime is still under investigation.
There were no injuries and nobody found in the room was arrested or charged with illegal gambling.
Illegal Gambling in NYC
This isn’t the first incident connecting illegal gambling and violence in NYC. Back in October, four people were killed and three wounded in a different illegal gambling incident. This happened in Brooklyn, where very early in the morning police discovered four bodies inside a club, as well as three wounded victims that were immediately taken to the hospital. Although in serious condition, all eventually recovered. Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea expressed his concern about the event and said they were working to figure out if the shooting had been the result of a robbery or some sort of gambling dispute, adding that the entire place was “a bit of a chaotic scene” when they arrived and the precinct was working through it.
The police never released the name of the victims, who varied in age between 32 and 49. Some were local Brooklyn residents, but some were travelers from out of state who seemed to have come to NYC especially to gamble. Although the police didn’t share details on the gambling operation, they did point out that gambling rooms around the city are actually very common and situations like this are bound to repeat unless things are managed better.
What Comes Next
No arrests have been made so far. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio talked to the press about the event and the guns found abandoned at the scene. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it until I can’t anymore: we have an epidemic of gun violence that spares no community — and it won’t stop until we get guns off our streets once and for all.”
NYC has seen a major drop in homicides over the past decade, so events like this shake city residents and authorities, who aren’t used to waking up to this type of news.
Although there were no valuables left in the room (no cash and no gold or jewelry, which could have been the motive for the robbery), police found cards and dice, as well as tables and drinks, in an arrangement that seemed to indicate people were gambling illegally in the room. While some areas often receive complaints about illegal gambling operations that caused the police to investigate, this particular neighborhood had never been an issue.
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