Fifty-four people were arrested Monday morning after hundreds of young thugs rampaged through the streets of New York City in what cops say has become a new Easter night tradition of mayhem.
Four people were shot -- a man and woman in Times Square and two women outside of Macy's in Herald Square. Their injuries were minor. The three women were innocent bystanders, according to a report in the New York Daily News.
The overnight melee brought up disturbing memories of the past, with Mayor Bloomberg calling it "wilding" and Manhattan Boro President Scott Stringer warning of "reliving the bad old days of the 1970s."
Police say when the annual car show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center coincides with Easter Sunday, gangs use it as an excuse to go to the show, then go out and run amok. The NYPD had beefed up patrols in preparation. "It's something we watch over and we prepare for it in advance," said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.
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Untilt his year, the most serious problems were a few stabbings. But this time, the bullets were flying.
"It was pretty crazy," said one witness. "It was like 'pop,' real loud - then silence. Then another 'Pop, pop, pop, pop.' Everyone started running down the street, screaming, 'They're shooting, they're shooting!'"
"The mayhem in Midtown appears to be a bunch of gang members wilding," said Mayor Bloomberg. "There's a bunch of people that think it's cute to go out and to run around and to cause chaos."
Witnesses described large groups of young men swaggering through the streets, periodically breaking into a run when someone pulled a gun.
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"This city is going to hell. People shouldn't have to worry about being shot, especially in Midtown," said an angry fuming Tena Hemingway, whose 19-year-old sister was shot in the elbow outside Macy's.
"She was just walking around with a group of friends celebrating Easter," Hemingway said. "They were headed toward the train to go home, when a group of guys just came up on them and started acting a fool and started yelling - and that's when the shots went off."
Note: This story was originally published in the NY Daily News.