A man was shot dead on Thursday a few blocks from the heart of New York’s Times Square tourist hub, which last year was made a gun-free zone, police said.
Police said they responded to an emergency call at around 5:30 pm (2230 GMT) to find the victim suffering from a gunshot wound to his chest near West 44 Street and 8th Avenue, a few minutes walk from Times Square.
The 22-year-old man, who was not identified, later died at Mount Sinai West hospital, the New York Police Department said in a statement.
No arrests were made as of 9:30 pm, the police added.
The shooting, outside a fast-food restaurant near the illuminated electronic billboards and tourist hordes of Times Square, sent frightened bystanders running, local media reported.
“There was a stampede of people trying to get away,” witness Will Colon told the New York Daily News.
“It was a couple young dudes who shot him,” Colon said. “His body was laid right out on the sidewalk. He was face-up shaking.”
“It didn’t look like he was going to make it,” he added.
Two gunmen ran off on foot down Eighth Avenue, unnamed sources told the Daily News.
Since September, New York state’s legislature banned the possession of firearms in sensitive areas, such as bars, libraries, schools, government buildings, hospitals and vulnerable, heavily trafficked locations, including the ever-bustling Times Square.
The restrictions have faced multiple court challenges from gun rights proponents.
New York City’s Democratic mayor Eric Adams, a former police officer, last year unveiled “Times Square: Gun Free Zone” signage for posting in and around the busy center of Manhattan.
Following a spike in New York City gun homicides in 2020 and 2021, killings dropped in 2022 to 433 in a city of 8.5 million people and 50 million visitors annually.