‘Iron Pipeline’ provided gun used in Harlem cop killings

NEW YORK (PIX11) — When a government study attempted to estimate the amount of illegal guns in circulation in New York City nearly 30 years ago, the figure was put at two million.

Last year, in 2021, the NYPD was able to seize 6,000 of them.

The disparity in the number of illegal guns that exist in the city – and those that are actually recovered – is staggering.

“Most guns come here in bulk,” said John Cutter, a retired NYPD deputy chief.

He was speaking of the I-95 corridor between the Southeast and Northern United States known as the “Iron Pipeline.”

“And then someone sells them on the street,” Cutter said.

States like Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida are often prominently mentioned when officials discuss the flow of guns from the South into the New York metro area.

“We’re talking about the South,” Cutter said. “Don’t forget Pennsylvania — Pennsylvania has very lax gun laws when it comes to buying firearms.”

Ohio is another state where many guns are trafficked into New York.

PIX11 News decided to revisit the Iron Pipeline after a second police officer – Wilbert Mora – was seriously wounded and succumbed to his injuries in a shooting in Harlem last Friday night.

NYPD Officer Wilbert Mora Dies Days After Harlem Shooting: NYPD

Mora, 27, and his partner, 22-year-old Jason Rivera, were both hit in the head at close range with a .45 caliber bullet fired from a Glock 45.

Rivera died almost immediately from the fatal wound. Mora was pronounced dead Tuesday at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Lashawn McNeil, the ex-convict accused of shooting the two young officers near a back room, was shot dead by a third officer on Friday while trying to escape and died of his injuries on Monday afternoon.

John Cutter said the .45 caliber bullet McNeil used was a large piece of ammunition.
“When it hits you, it hits you like a brick,” John Cutter said of the ammo, which is larger than what cops use in their Glock 9mm guns.

Speaking to the PIX11 Morning News on Tuesday, Daryl McCormick, deputy special agent for the New York City Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said his investigators want to trace where McNeil’s gun went after it was reported stolen in Baltimore in 2017.

A magazine was attached to the grip of the Glock, which could hold 40 bullets.

“All magazines are the same,” Cutter said in reference to how they attach to the gun. “You will slide up through the grip of the weapon.”

While Mayor Eric Adams announces a task force and plans to attack 30 New York City police precincts with most gun problems, John Cutter pointed out that “straw buyers” who go south to buy guns remain a challenge for investigators .

“Straw buyers” are individuals with no criminal record who can purchase more than one gun in multiple states and then sell them to individuals who have criminal records in the background.

Cutter said the controversial “stop, question and frisk” policy, which was largely scrapped under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, kept many more guns on the streets.

He hopes plainclothes cops will return to address the gun problem.

Cutter spoke about McNeil’s ability to fire many bullets without reloading due to the high-capacity magazine on his gun.

“The reality is, this weapon was designed to kill people,” Cutter said. “It wasn’t designed for target practice. It wasn’t designed for hunting.”

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