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BY COLIN MIXSON
Police have arrested a man in connection to last Monday’s shooting incident involving rival ticket sellers at The Battery that sent two people — including a bystander — to the hospital with gunshot wounds, and local leaders are demanding action to curb the pass-peddler scourge.
An anonymous tip led to the arrest of 37-year-old Brooklyn resident Jason Wright, who was booked at the First Precinct on Erricson Place Thursday, according to police. Wright’s record is spotted with 10 prior arrests since 1997, when police first picked him up on murder charges at the age of 17, cops said.
Both victims fingered Wright as the gunman in the April 24 shooting, according to court documents. A third witness claims she saw Wright arguing with another man from across the street, when he started shooting from a gun hidden inside his jacket pocket, which then emitted smoke, according to court documents.
Wright was charged with second-degree attempted murder, second-degree assault, second-degree criminal possession of weapon, and reckless endangerment. An attorney for Wright, Zwi Wasserstein, declined to comment on behalf his client.
The quarrel between the competing ticket vendors turned bloody after one of the pass peddlers — allegedly Wright — drew a pistol on Washington Street near Battery Place at 3:10 pm, and started firing.
His rival, a 40-year-old man, took a bullet to the gut, while another shot went wild and struck a 34-year-old bystander in the leg, cops said.
The shooting occurred just as the closing bell rang at nearby PS 276, and its a small miracle none of the departing students were mowed down in a hail of bullets, according to Councilwoman Margaret Chin.
“This recent shooting, which occurred in broad daylight with young children nearby, presents an unacceptable level of danger,” said the lawmaker.
Chin led a rally on Sunday at The Battery calling of the city to crack down on Downtown’s ticket sellers. Ticket vendors have prayed on tourists in Lower Manhattan for years, selling tickets to the free Staten Island ferry, and peddling passes to other popular Downtown attractions at outrageous prices. Their aggressive sales tactics have occasionally even turned violent.
Last year, one unsavory ticket vendor sucker-punched a 33-year-old tourist after the out-of-towner turned down the assailant’s wife, who tried to sell him a ticket to the Statue of Liberty. The blow sent the victim sprawling onto the pavement, fracturing his skull.
Lawmakers have made some strides to address the reckless industry, and city council recently passed a law introduced by Councilman Dan Garodnick (D–Midtown) requiring ticket vendors obtain licenses through the Department of Consumer Affairs.
But the shooting Monday demonstrated a more heavy-handed government crackdown is called for, Chin said, and the councilwoman is calling on consumer affairs and the mayor’s office to join City Council in exploring further solutions to the plague of ticket vendors Downtown.
“I am calling on the Administration, and specifically the Department of Consumer Affairs, to act to rein in ticket selling at the Battery, which has so clearly spiraled out of control,” Chin said.
Chin was joined Sunday by Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, Community Board 1 Chairman Anthony Notaro, members of the Financial District Neighborhood Association, local residents, and parents of children at nearby schools, including PS 276.
It’s unclear what form a city crackdown might take, but Chin spokesman Paul Leonard suggested new laws giving cops greater “latitude” when it comes to policing ticket sellers and prohibiting ticket sales except in designated areas, thereby preventing “turf wars” fought for control over tourist heavy sites.
The vendors have been staking claim to new sites beyond their traditional haunts around the Staten Island Ferry and Battery Park, and have migrated to Bowling Green and the area around the 9-11 Memorial in response to the opening of the Oculus Transportation Hub, according to Notaro.
“They’re all over the place,” Notaro said.