‘Law & Order’ Crew Member Is Fatally Shot at Brooklyn Film Location
A Brooklyn film location for a ripped-from-the-headlines television crime show became a murder scene early Tuesday when a man who was enforcing parking restrictions connected to the production was fatally shot while he sat in a car, the police said.
The killing happened on North Henry Street near Norman Avenue in the Greenpoint neighborhood as a crew working on the crime show, “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” was preparing to film on the block, according to the police and fliers posted there.
The police identified the victim as Johnny Pizarro, 31, of Queens.
Mr. Pizarro, whose job was to make sure the street was clear so that vehicles affiliated with the show could park, was sitting in a car when a lone assailant approached the vehicle, opened the door and shot him in the head and neck, the police said. He was taken to Woodhull Hospital Center in Brooklyn, where he was pronounced dead, the police said.
No arrest had been made and no motive had been established by Tuesday afternoon, the police said. A short, thin man in a black hooded sweatshirt and dark pants was seen running from where the shooting occurred, the police said.
The killing of a man working in service of a high-profile industry in a relatively safe neighborhood came at a time of growing unease in some quarters that — despite shootings and murders being down so far this year — New York City is becoming unsafe.
Mayor Eric Adams, a former police captain who ran as a crime fighter and continues to make public safety a top priority, has helped feed that perception at times, saying, for instance, that he had “never witnessed crime at this level.” (Police data undercuts that characterization.)
Fabien Levy, a spokesman for Mr. Adams, said in a statement that law enforcement authorities would “work diligently to bring the suspect to justice.”
“The safety of all New Yorkers is our top priority,” Mr. Levy said. “No shooting is acceptable.”
Reached at his home in Puerto Rico, Mr. Pizarro’s father, who shares the name Johnny with his son, said he was “shocked” when his daughter called to tell him of the killing.
“No words,” the elder Mr. Pizarro said, describing how his son had come to visit him two months ago as the men “tried to bring our relationship together.”
“This thing is a tragedy,” he added.
“Law & Order: Organized Crime,” which airs on NBC and stars Christopher Meloni, is set in New York and draws inspiration from crimes committed in the city.
The show is the latest iteration of the durable crime-procedural franchise created by the producer Dick Wolf. It is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with Wolf Entertainment, and is filming its third season.
“We were terribly saddened and shocked to hear that one of our crew members was the victim of a crime early this morning and has died as a result,” a spokeswoman for NBC and Universal Television said in a statement. “We are working with local law enforcement as they continue to investigate.”
The block where the killing occurred is lined with large trees and mostly three-story homes inhabited by a mix of longtime residents and newer arrivals. Msgr. McGolrick Park, a shady, dog-friendly oasis, is close by. Monthly rents for some renovated units run from $3,500 to $5,000, according to online listings.
The area is in the 94th Precinct, where serious crime is generally rare, according to police statistics. There had not previously been a murder in the precinct this year as of Sunday and none last year or in 2020, the data shows.
Janus Czuj, a 35-year neighborhood resident who lives around the corner from the site of the shooting, said violent crime was indeed rare in the area.
“Every night I walk here,” Mr. Czuj, 60, said, adding that there was “never a single problem” in the neighborhood and “never something crazy like this.”
He said his truck had been parked Monday evening on the block where the killing occurred and that a man he believed was Mr. Pizarro had asked him to move it.
“I saw him yesterday,” Mr. Czuj said. He added: “He was so energetic.”
Gabrielle Van den Berg, who lives across the street from where the shooting happened, said her husband had gone outside after hearing shots, then came back inside after noticing nothing amiss.
“It was really loud,” Ms. Van den Berg said of the gunfire. “I’m pretty sure it was three gunshots.”
Productions like the one Mr. Pizarro was working on contribute significantly to New York City’s economy. A study released by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment last August found that the film and television industry supported about 185,000 jobs, $18.1 billion in wages and $81.6 billion in total economic output in 2019.
Eighty TV series — a record number — were shooting in the city during the 2018-19 season, according to the study. And although the industry ceased operations for several months in 2020 amid the pandemic’s early phase, it has begun to rebound. There are around 35 series now filming in the five boroughs, officials said.
The frequent presence of film crews in certain neighborhoods can be a contentious issue for residents who are forced to relinquish coveted parking spaces to make way for production-related vehicles.
Film crews typically post notices on light poles advising residents about when they must move their cars and when filming will begin. Workers affiliated with a production, like Mr. Pizarro, then sit out all night to ensure the streets are emptied.
In the case of the “Law & Order: Organized Crime” production, fliers indicated that cars were to be moved off the block by 10 p.m. Monday and that filming was set to begin at 6 a.m. Tuesday — about an hour after Mr. Pizarro was killed.
The shooting prompted production to shut down for the day. A little after 4 p.m., the last police investigators left the area, as did a tow truck pulling what was presumably the car that Mr. Pizarro was in when he was shot.
Olivia Bensimon and Chelsia Rose Marcius contributed reporting. Kirsten Noyes contributed research.