NEW YORK — A man attending his daughter’s ninth birthday party in Brooklyn on Monday night turned the joyful celebration into a horrific scene when he shot and killed her mother and two sisters, the police said.
The man, Joseph McCrimon, then left the girl inside the fourth-floor apartment in a public housing project in Brownsville and shot himself in the head on a nearby sidewalk, police said. The final act was captured by a security camera, officials said.
The frightened girl called 911 around 11:15 p.m. and told police that her father was coming to her party but “he didn’t bring presents,” Chief of Detectives James Essig said Tuesday at a news conference at Police Headquarters.
Investigators were still working to determine a motive for the killings Tuesday, and had interviewed family members, Essig said. McCrimon and the girl’s mother had a 20-year romantic relationship, which Essig described as “very rocky.”
“We know he left in an agitated state to meet her,” he said. Still, the police had not received other domestic violence complaints or 911 calls about the pair, he said.
The police identified the girl’s mother as Rasheeda Barzey, 45, and her sisters as Solei Spears, 20, and Chloe Spears, 16. They were all shot in the head. The girl, whom police said was 8 or 9, was not injured, police said.
Officers found McCrimon, a 46-year-old former felon whose name was also given as McCrimons, with a wound to the head. Police found a gun in the apartment and one next to his body.
The city’s police commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, said he had watched body-camera footage recorded by the officers who responded to the 911 call. “It would tear your heart out to see the young girl from that crime,” he said.
Barzey was an administrative manager for the city’s public hospital system, according to her LinkedIn page. Her oldest daughter, Solei Spears, was a student at Baruch College.
A neighbor, Mariame Diop, 14, said that she didn’t hear gunshots the night of the shooting. She also said she was not familiar with the girl and her family and that she was shocked by the violence.
“There are some shootings that go around in the area, but nothing happened this big in the building before,” she said.
McCrimon was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in 1995, after Hempstead police said he shot a sanitation worker in the back on Halloween two years earlier.
The victim, Eugene Grant, Jr., 28, had just broken up a street fight involving McCrimon’s nephew. He left behind five children, according to Newsday. McCrimon, who was 18 at the time of the shooting, claimed that the gun fell out of his pocket and went off while the victim was reaching for it, according to court documents.
McCrimon was incarcerated in March 1995, according to state corrections records. He was granted conditional release in September 2000 but sent back to prison for an unspecified violation in February 2003, state records show. McCrimon was released from Sing Sing Correctional Facility months later, in August 2003, after serving his sentence.
In 2013, McCrimon was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to robbing a bank in the Hudson Valley, court papers said. He later denied committing the crime and convinced an appeals court to reduce his sentence. In a pre-sentencing memo, federal prosecutors noted that he did not accept responsibility for either the robbery or the killing and said that he was “an unlikely candidate for rehabilitation.”
The killings on Monday night came three years after another murder-suicide in Brownsville. In that case, a 27-year-old man with a history of violence and psychiatric issues shot and killed his infant daughter, his brother and his stepfather. His mother discovered the carnage after she returned from an outing at a casino.
For years, even as murders have declined significantly in New York City, the number of domestic violence homicides have remained stubbornly high.
City officials have been particularly worried about a possible increase in domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic. Though domestic homicides fell last year in New York, many doctors and advocates said they had seen strong signs of an increase in violence at home as shutdown restrictions kept people inside and economic pressures mounted.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio called the killings of Barzey and her children “a horrible, horrible situation.”
“On top of all the extraordinary challenges of this pandemic we have seen another horrible blight, which is more domestic violence,” de Blasio said. The mayor said the city had redoubled its efforts to support groups that assist victims of violence in the home.
Officers had investigated 14 domestic violence homicides this year as of Sunday, a police department spokesman said. In 2020, there were 58 domestic killings, compared with 64 the year before.