NYPD discovers 3D printed ghost guns in East Harlem day care as city reels from baby’s fentanyl exposure death
New York City officials sounded the alarm Wednesday after police found ghost guns materials at a Manhattan day care facility, as inspectors still reel from the death of a 1-year-old and hospitalizations of three other children from fentanyl exposure at a Bronx day care earlier this month.
Mayor Eric Adams gathered NYPD and other officials, including Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, at police headquarters Wednesday to talk about another case where “a home day care provider had children in a dangerous environment.”
The announcement comes on the heels of the death of 1-year-old Nicholas Dominici at a Bronx day care Sep. 15. Three other children was hospitalized from fentanyl exposure despite the day care passing a surprise inspection on Sept. 6. Adams’ administration faced criticism after City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan admitted that “my child care inspectors are not trained to do is look for fentanyl, but maybe they need to.” The day care operator and her tenant were initially arrested, and the operator’s husband was nabbed in Sinaloa, Mexico this week.
“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,” Adams said Wednesday. “We’re 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 of do we have 3D printers that can print guns?” the mayor posed. “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.”
On Tuesday, the NYPD executed three search warrants related to a long-term investigation into the sale and manufacture of privately made firearms, known as PMFs, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterror Rebecca Weiner announced. Three people were arrested as a result, including 18-year-old Karon Coley and two minors. Multiple printed firearms were recovered from a private residence in Manhattan also licensed by Coley’s mother as a day care facility.
“Investigators recovered a 3D printer, 3D printing tools and plastic filament to completed 3D printed firearms. One 3D printed assault pistol in the final stages of assembly and one additional 3D printed lower receiver,” Weiner said. “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.”
The day care facility was last inspected in February 2023, when three violations were found related to documentation around feeding and sleeping schedules and preferences from the family, as well as verification from doctors that children did not have any infectious diseases, Christina Chang, of the City Department for Mental Health and Hygiene, said.
“There’s an extensive list that the inspectors go through now, and it’s pretty elaborate and extensive of what they have to check off,” Adam told reporters. “So that no one is going in trying to guess on what you need to be inspected, what we want to do, working with the team of health professionals, law enforcement professionals, 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 other 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, substance, another dangerous entity that has been introduced into this conversation.”
“Within the last three years, the number of PMFs and gun parts that we’ve recovered has increased significantly. In 2021, the NYPD recovered at least 260,” Weiner said. Last year’s number was almost double that with 436 recoveries. This year to date, the NYPD has recovered 290 PMFs. Compared to last year, NYPD recovered three times as many 3D printed firearms so far.
Bragg said his office has brought prosecution related to the seizures of 93 ghost gun parts, 66 ghost guns and firearms, 428 high-capacity magazines and 47 silencers.
Adams warned parents about online forums on open source teaching people how to make ghost guns and sharing blueprints for the 3D printed firearms.
“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 it,” Adams said. “They can navigate these devices from cell phones, iPads to 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. That’s extremely frightening.”