Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you so much. I’m Mayor Adams, and I’m joined by District Attorney Bragg and the Police Commissioner, Commissioner Caban, and our support teams.
It does not give us any joy in coming here to talk about another case where a home daycare provider had children in a dangerous environment. And as we lay out this case and answer the questions from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to give clarity on the roles we are playing, we just want to really say to the parents who are dropping their children off every day to these centers that we are going to remain vigilant.
We are going to continually modify the rules — like they have been modified throughout the years — to stay ahead of bad people that are doing bad things in environments where our children are. Who would have thought that we must add to our list of inspections, do we have 3D printers that can print guns? Do we see the presence of various items like fentanyl and other items. These new methods of creating unsafe environments demand that we stay ahead of those who are doing terrible things in centers where we place our children.
This is a terrible case, we saw the presence of fentanyl in the Bronx, and just really want to commend the law enforcement officers and the first responders who immediately made apprehensions. I believe we picked up one of the last people involved, if not more. We will continue to pursue that. But now we’re finding in addition to fentanyl that in a similar setting we’ve seen the presence of ghost guns and devices that appear to make those guns.
And so there is a law enforcement arm that we are going to continue to pursue. There are things that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that we are going to sit down with the group, a small working group, to look at what we must do legislatively, what we must do in enhancing the types of inspections that we do and continuing education.
And then there’s an educational component that we are going to roll out with families, because many of us that are parents are not familiar with some of the new devices that are being used to make guns or to store narcotics or drugs or opioids, and we need to really support families and parents on what they should look for in their household.
I remember years ago when I was a state senator I put out the video of what to look through in your child’s room, and many people, you know, criticized me for doing so, but it’s an educational material. It is unfair that parents are having this awesome responsibility while social media is teaching children how to do dangerous things, we need to teach parents how to stay one step ahead, and that is what we’re going to do. I did it as a state senator, a borough president and I’m going to continue to do it as the mayor to give parents the tools that they need.
This is a heartbreaking scenario of thinking that you’re dropping your child off to a place of safe haven just to find out that it was a dangerous environment where someone was making a gun inside. And again, I want to thank the men and women of the New York City Police Department for moving in a rapid pace, and the district attorney’s office and the judge for taking the steps that we needed to further this investigation.
And we’re going to work united: we are clear that we must protect children in this city, and we’re going to lead the entire country with some of the methods that we will put in place to carry out this awesome responsibility. Police Commissioner Caban?
Police Commissioner Edward Caban: Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor, and thank you all for coming. Disrupting the flow of illegal guns has been a top priority for this administration since day one, and when it comes to taking conventional guns off our streets, the NYPD is doing a fantastic job, taking in excess of 12,000 illegal firearms since January of 2022.
We have also been tracking an emerging trend involving Polymer P80 guns; or, ghost guns, as they are called. These plastic guns have been showing up more and more, demanding the attention of our intelligence division; in fact, a specialized team was created to go after those who sell and purchase ghost guns in New York City. We have also had great success in this area, and Deputy Commissioner Weiner will get into specifics shortly.
With the world of guns continues to evolve, criminals are always searching for ways to avoid the police, and the new frontier is 3D printing. 3D guns, 3D printed guns are among the easiest ways to obtain a gun. They can be made in your home; they can be made anonymously; and they are cheap, costing a fraction of the price for a traditional firearm or even a P80 firearm. 3D printed guns have dedicated online forums explaining how they work; and as today’s arrest shows, these types of guns have captured the attention of our kids.
The NYPD is not going to stand by and allow this emerging trend to take hold of our city. Today’s a call to action. We are talking to the parents. Please check out what kids are up to, monitor their Internet activities. We are also speaking to those who think printing 3D guns is the wave of the future. You are wrong. The NYPD is dialed in on this trend. We will hold anyone accountable who emerged in these crimes.
I want to commend Inspector Nilan and her team for their tireless work. These cases are not easy. So much goes into tracing the online footprints of the suspects. Of course, once the case is made, we rely on our strong partnerships with the prosecutor to hold the suspects accountable.
Today we stand with the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg whose presence here sends a clear message: there is a united front on this issue and all matters of public safety. Together we continue to protect New Yorkers and make the safest big city in America even safer. Thank you. Now I’ll turn it over to Deputy Commissioner Weiner.
Deputy Commissioner Rebecca Weiner, Intelligence and Counterterrorism, Police Department: Good morning… Or afternoon, rather, everyone. Rebecca Weiner, I’m NYPD’s deputy commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism.
Yesterday, members of the Intelligence Division’s Major Case Field Intelligence team in coordination with the Manhattan district attorney’s office executed three search warrants in Manhattan North related to a long term investigation into the manufacture and sale of Privately Made Firearms — what are called PMFs — in New York City.
These warrants resulted in the arrest of three individuals including two minors, and the recovery of multiple 3D printed firearms. This is an ongoing investigation and the information that we’re going to present to you today is preliminary in nature.
What I can say is that our investigation began with a group of individuals including some minors who are purchasing ghost gun parts from online retailers as well as materials and filaments required to print 3D firearm components. Some of the purchases were made through fraudulent means, including the alleged identity theft of multiple victims across the United States.
During the analysis of the evidence recovered during the first two search warrants, investigators determined that an individual identified as 18-year-old Karon Coley was also involved in the 3D printing of firearms. Acting swiftly on this new intelligence, our detectives worked with the Manhattan DA’s office to execute an additional search warrant for Mr. Coley’s residence.
It’s important for us to underline that this private residence located in the 25th precinct is also a licensed daycare operated by the subject’s mother. Inside this daycare facility, investigators recovered a 3D printer, 3D printing tools and plastic filament, two completed 3D printed firearms, one 3D printed assault pistol in the final stages of assembly, and one additional 3D printed lower receiver.
Mr. Coley was arrested at the location. Investigators also found an obviously maltreated and neglected dog. The NYPD’s Animal Cruelty Unit responded and removed the dog for evaluation. The circumstances around these galling arrests are part of a larger trend into what’s become a global problem; namely, the manufacture and sale of Privately Made Firearms — or, PMFs — which include ghost guns as well as 3D printed firearms.
When made well, ghost guns and 3D printed firearms operate just like commercial firearms. In the hands of teenagers, they can inflict just as much violence. This is a growing trend in New York City, and one that our Major Case Field Intelligence Team has been at the forefront of grappling with for the past several years.
We take an intelligence based approach to identifying and disrupting individuals who are engaged in the manufacture and sale of PMFs with the aim of intercepting guns before they make it to the streets. We follow the data where it leads us, and the data is alarming: within the last three years, the number of PMFs and gun parts that we’ve recovered has increased significantly.
In 2021, the NYPD recovered 260 PMFs…263. Last year’s number was almost double that, 436 recoveries. Year to date, the NYPD has recovered 290 PMFs. Compared to last year, we’ve recovered three times as many 3D printed firearms this year, and the year is not over yet.
Since 2021 inception of what we at the NYPD like to refer to as Inspector Courtney Nilan’s ghost gun team, we’ve recovered 500 PMFs and enough additional parts to construct 200 more. All of these guns and gun parts could have resulted in violence in our communities.
We couldn’t have done and don’t do any of this alone. Our approach to combating the scourge of PMFs relies on relentless collaboration with our federal, state and local partners, particularly the Manhattan DA’s office. We also want to recognize the New York State Police, HSI, CBP and ATF for their partnership. Thank you so much, and I’ll now turn it over to DA Bragg.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg: Thank you so much, deputy commissioner, and thank you, Mr. Mayor, police commissioner.
You’ve all mentioned the united front. This work in collaboration is one of the best collaborations I’ve seen in law enforcement. I want to be clear about that. And I want to in particular thank, we’ve heard her name a couple of times, but Inspector Nilan.
The ghost gun initiative was started in 2020. Her team of dedicated detectives who put themselves into harm’s way daily are keeping our city safe, and it is due to her tremendous leadership, and it is an honor and a privilege for my office to partner with the entire NYPD, but in particular, Inspector Nilan and the ghost gun initiative.
With me today from my office are Jodie Kane, the chief of the Rackets Bureau, in which our ghost guns work is housed and the acting chief of our investigations division, and ADA Bonnie Seok, who is the driver of this work in our office. And the collaboration is second to none in terms of what I’ve seen in my time in law enforcement.
Since 2020, our office has brought prosecutions based on this collaboration that involves seizures of 93 ghost gun parts, 66 ghost guns and firearms, 428 high capacity magazines and 47 silencers. Those are prosecutions that made New York and Manhattan safer and that are based on this extraordinary collaboration.
As for today, the hard work of the NYPD and the district attorney’s office has resulted in charges that will be presented later today, and there will be an arraignment. The charges will include illegal firearms possession, manufacturing of an assault weapon and reckless endangerment. And I want to underscore, as Deputy Commissioner Weiner said, this investigation is ongoing. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Thank you, Commissioner. Thank you, Chief. Thank you, Inspector. Thank you, Deputy Commissioner for this collaboration onward.
We’ll take a few questions on this case.
Question: The last time this daycare was inspected was in February. Was there anything found during that inspection? I know that they had kids who were not of age in there at the time. Second, is April, his mother, being charged in connection with this case as well?
Christina Chang, Executive Deputy Commissioner and Chief Program Officer, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Hi. My name’s Christina Chang. I’m with the Department of Mental… Health and Mental Hygiene.
With regard to the inspection, so there was, the last inspection was February of 2023. They did find three violations that were related to documentation around feeding and sleeping schedules and preferences in the family as well as verification from doctors that children didn’t have any infectious diseases. They were cited those issues, and they took corrective action and verified that the paperwork was done. So, that was the last time that we were there.
District Attorney Bragg: Sure. The charges are… As deputy commissioner described earlier in her remarks, the investigation is ongoing.
Question: How often are these daycares inspected and what does that process look like and who does it? And how are you guys making sure now with in light of this new products being found in like underground trap doors, how are you making sure that these spaces are again looked over in the future.
Executive Deputy Commissioner Chang: I’ll take that as well. So, every daycare center has to undergo an initial inspection before they can open, and so we’re making sure that our priority is that it’s for children. And so we’re looking at things like fire exits, we’re looking at window guards, we’re looking to make sure that medications and cleaning products are locked away and out of reach of children. And then… And we will just conduct annual inspections following their initial license. Some of them are announced and some of them are surprise inspections.
Question: Thanks. Hi. This might be for the Health Department. How long has this daycare been in business?
Executive Deputy Commissioner Chang: The initial license was issued in February of 2021.
Question: And then also for the Police Department, have guns been sold out of this location or do we have any idea what they were doing with the guns they were making?
Inspector Courtney Nilan, Intelligence Division, Police Department: That’s still under investigation right now.
Question: A two part question. the first is, did this execution of the warrant and the arrest of Mr. Coley take place during or after daycare operating hours? And second, for Ms. Chang, regarding annual inspections, there about 7,000 in the city, from what I understand, $18 million in funding to the city. Is there any effort to increase the number of inspections besides that one time, unannounced annual inspection?
Deputy Commissioner Weiner: The warrant was executed after daycare hours.
Executive Deputy Commissioner Chang: Well, there’s at least one annual inspection. If there are any violations that are found that need to be rectified, there will be compliance inspections that happen as well. And we are always working with both internally and with our state partners to tighten up our inspection protocols so that we can guarantee…we can ensure the safety and welfare of our children.
Mayor Adams: Before you do that, Mike. Just to point out, there is no backlog now on inspections. Inspections are up to date, so it’s not as though we have a backlog of inspections, they are up to date.
Question: It’s just about broadening what you are looking for.
Mayor Adams: Exactly, um hmm.
Question: I was wondering if we could get a little more clarity on that like in terms of, Dr. Vasan talked about this, I think, with the fentanyl situation. What might inspections be brought in to cover? Like, what is the city looking at in terms of that, what’s being considered as… Have you guys come up with a plan yet on how to do that?
Mayor Adams: Well, there is an extensive list that the inspectors go through now, and it’s pretty elaborate and extensive of what they have to check off so that no one is going in and trying to guess on what you need to be inspecting. What we want to do, working with the team of health professionals, law enforcement professionals and prosecutors, is sit down and put together a working group, look at the preexisting list and state, are there other items we can include on that list?
Are there things we can do to assist those inspectors, as in training with those who are knowledgeable in how to look for firearms, firearm parts, how to look for illegal substances [another] dangerous entity that has been introduced into this conversation. And so once we come away from that working group, we will report to everyone what is our finding and how we’re going to expand these inspection process.
Question: As a former police captain, do you like off the top of your head have things you would suggest to the Health Department, like you know, you should look for compartments under the floor, stuff like that?
Mayor Adams: Yes, it is challenging. I think when you looked at the Bronx, there were trap doors and there were places that were hidden. And after the incident happened in the Bronx I spoke with Dr. Vasan and his team, they’re not just walking through. People need to…I want people, New Yorkers to know that. It is not walking through, they’re looking in closets, they’re looking in bathrooms. They’re making sure that if people actually live there.
And so there is an extensive process already in place, but we are just dealing with a new enemy, and we have to stay ahead of those who are finding creative ways to create dangerous environments. And so even the presence of a manual on how to make a ghost gun, that should pique a further investigation.
Sometimes you see something and you say, wait a minute, we want to dig a little deeper, seeing a powdered substance. It’s just going to take us to sit down with our law enforcement experts and say what are some of the things that we can further enhance our training. We don’t want to sit back and think and say that okay, we’re doing a great job. No. If we found fentanyl in one daycare center and a few days later we’re finding guns, we have to continue to evolve our product.
Question: So, can you describe the daycare? Is this the similar set up to the Bronx daycare where it was run out of a home? And where were the guns and the 3D printers found? Were they in areas where the children were?
Mayor Adams: So, let’s first describe the daycare.
Executive Deputy Commissioner Chang: Right. It is a family daycare site, so it is in someone’s home, and it’s similar to the one that was in the Bronx as well.
Question: And were the guns, were the 3D printers found where children could access them?
Executive Deputy Commissioner Chang: I think that’s an NYPD question.
Mayor Adams: Law enforcement.
Inspector Nilan: Well, they were found in an unlocked room.
Question: Good afternoon. When the city is going to do the inspections, do they previously inform the owner that they are going, or they’re doing it randomly?
Executive Deputy Commissioner Chang: There are announced inspections and surprise inspections both.
Question: And is there any occasions where you guys go like randomly because you have any information or something like that?
Executive Deputy Commissioner Chang: If there is something that’s reported, is that what your question is?
Executive Deputy Commissioner Chang: I think that if there’s something that’s reported we might talk with law enforcement about that, right, to follow up. But we will… And if there’s a reason for us to, that’s raised for us to go in, we will perform an inspection.
Question: Inspector Nilan, you had mentioned that you were seeing a spike in ghost guns being taken off the streets, and you mentioned there’s a an Internet component to these guns being found. How are you discovering these guns on the Internet? Are they being sold on the Internet and you guys are tracking that?
Inspector Nilan: Well, there’s many ways. Through our partnerships with the district attorney’s office and legal process, there’s a lot of chatter about these guns on open source. There are actually forums on open source where people are readily teaching each other how to make them, are putting up the blueprints for the 3D printed firearms and are pretty much trading blueprints for 3D printed firearms, because as of right now, 3D… There’s no legislation for 3D printed blueprints, which are then sent to your 3D printer and the guns are printed.
So, you can get these pretty much for free on many different websites. And in addition to that, you can buy, again on open source, subscriptions to get a little better quality 3D printed blueprints to make these firearms.
Mayor Adams: And so we have to keep up. You know, this young man was 18, and any of you who, if you have a young child, you know, technology, they’re just extremely comfortable with and they could navigate these devices from cell phones, iPads through so many things. And you know. these folks are preying on our children.
You’ve got an 18-year-old in his room, 3D printer. He’s not making little robotic toys, he’s making guns. That should be scary to everyone. Yes, that’s extremely frightening.
Question: Just to DA the if we can talk about who’s been charged in this; and then second, was this daycare shut down, is it still operational today? You don’t have to answer that, I mean, anybody else can answer, too.
District Attorney Bragg: So, we covered the person charged and the charges earlier, so I have nothing to add to that.
Question: So it’s the one person being charged, is there names of people who’ve been charged?
District Attorney Bragg: I believe it was covered when the deputy commissioner…
Question: Okay. And then secondly, has this daycare been shut down?
Executive Deputy Commissioner Chang: We had an inspector go on site this morning and there was no access, so it’s closed.
Question: I understand there’s a lot of discussion about enhancing the training of the state and local inspectors, but is it possible given the NYPD’s wealth of experience in detecting guns and drugs out on the streets that we could see some kind of formal partnership with members of the NYPD joining those inspectors out during those inspections to see if there’s a 3D printer or a ghost gun or fentanyl or traces of it in a daycare center?
Mayor Adams: That’s part of the assessment that we want to do. We really believe that there’s going to be a need of a combined effort, and these skills can be learned and acquired. And if there is a period of time we need before we can totally take off the training aspect of it, we’re willing to do so. And that’s what this working group is going to do, do a real analysis of how do we go about enhancing the level of inspection.
Dr. Vasan alluded to that after the Bronx situation, and we’re going to make sure we can come up with a good tool. And the police department, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the DA’s office, this is a team effort. All of us feel the chill of what we saw in these last two incidents.
And if you… You are an adult, we are asking adults should be extremely vigilant around determining what is inside the households, and we want to give them as much information as possible so they can become knowledgeable of these items. But we are looking at that to see how do we go about executing this next phase.
September 27, 2023