The Artezen Hotel, at 24 John Street, was recently the scene of a shootout between two rival youth gangs, who fired multiple rounds at each other, all of which missed their targets. The February 7 incident resulted in the arrests of nine individuals and the confiscation of eight guns by officers of the NYPD’s First Precinct.
These details were relayed by Captain Thomas P. Smith, the newly assigned commanding officer of the First Precinct, during a February 18 meeting of the Quality of Life Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1).
“We had a shooting at the Artezen Hotel,” Captain Smith began. “There was a music video being filmed there, and a couple of rival groups were out in front of the location. Two sets of perpetrators exchanged gunfire between each other. No one was hurt, no one was struck.”
“From that incident,” he continued, “we were able to make four arrests and recover three firearms. Subsequently, the following day, while conducting an investigation at that same hotel, our Neighborhood Coordination Officers were able to recover another firearm from a car parked outside, as the perpetrator was exiting the hotel.”
“This led us to consult with hotel management,” Captain Smith recalled, “who alerted us to the fact that these perpetrators had three or four rooms on the same floor together. Through our cooperation with that hotel management, we were able to arrest another five individuals and recover another four firearms.”
Captain Smith noted that the Artezen Hotel has become the scene of repeated violent confrontations in recent weeks, because, “these youths have been attracted to hotels in the area because of relaxed security protocols and lower rates that they wouldn’t normally have access to. We have a trend of outer-borough youths coming in to take advantage of these reduced rates. A lot these youths are affiliated with gangs—the Crips and the Bloods. So you have conflicting sects of each of these gangs that converge on these hotels in the City. And with any large gathering like that, there will always be some kind of altercation that escalates to violence.”
“That’s what we’ve been noticing,” he acknowledged. “So we have a lot of resources dedicated to that hotel.”
Lisa Dickinson, a resident of nearby 65 Nassau Street, said, “we’ve experienced some frustration prior to this, because of a sense that the owner of the Artezen was complicit, not doing anything to prevent the blatant drug dealing that was going on there.”
Captain Smith replied, “since that incident, Sal Loria, the owner of the Artezen Hotel, has compiled a bunch of security measures to curb the violence at that location. For instance, from 11:00 pm through 6:00 am each night, they now lock the front door and allow in only guests with room keys. And they are limiting keys to one per room, so they can’t be passed around. And the Artezen now caps the number of guests, with just two allowed per one bedroom, and four in two-bedroom units. They have added additional security cameras, upping it to about 100 cameras. They also have elevator lockouts, which require a room key to access any floor. And they are now doing security checks, patrolling each floor, the hallways and staircases.”
Ms. Dickinson added that, “we intend to remain vigilant, and we’d be happy to consider additional surveillance on our building if that would help you.”
On a related topic, Captain Smith noted that the Artezen is not one of the four Lower Manhattan hotels currently being used as homeless shelters by the City, as part of its response to the pandemic coronavirus.
“For those four locations,” he noted, “we only have 16 calls to 911 in the last 28 days, and no 311 calls.” He added that, “we had one complaint report for a grand larceny, which was committed by an employee of the shelter who took a phone from one of the homeless tenants.”
A total of three arrests have been made in recent weeks of people associated with the four Downtown hotels being used as homeless shelters, he added. “One was the employee who took the phone,” he said, while the other two arrests were made miles away. “There was burglary in Queens, for stolen packages, and a controlled-substance arrest in Brooklyn. Both people lived at the Hilton at Six Water Street,” which is one the local hotels being used as a shelter.
He concluded that, “of those four locations, nothing is really jumping out as far as any attention being needed.”