Ghost guns were found at a daycare in Harlem days after a one-year-old boy died from fentanyl exposure in a different New York City daycare.
Karon Coley, 18, was arrested after police found 3D-printed ghost guns at his mother’s home in East Harlem, which also operates a daycare centre on the same premises.
Two unnamed minors were also arrested in connection to the case.
There were two completed 3D-printed ghost guns along with an assault pistol that was almost completed in an unlocked room that children at the daycare could possibly access.
A 3D printer along with its tools was also found in the residence, as well as a “maltreated and neglected dog” that was taken into custody by animal services.
Mr Coley was charged with illegal firearms possession, manufacturing of an assault weapon and reckless endangerment, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said at a news conference on Wednesday regarding these two incidents.
Mr Coley’s printed firearms were discovered as a part of an investigation within New York into the manufacture and sale of privately made firearms (PMFs), police said.
"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," said Rebecca Weiner, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism.
This is the second case within two weeks that illegal activity has been discovered within daycare centres in New York City.
On 15 September, one-year-old Nicholas was found dead, with three other children hospitalised, at a daycare centre in the Bronx after being exposed to fentanyl.
It was discovered that fentanyl was hiding under a trap door covered by a mat which the children were napping on, alongside a large bag of narcotics in a cupboard next to the children.
Four people, including the owner of the daycare, have been arrested over the death that occurred, as well as her husband who fled to Mexico to try and evade arrest but was captured this week.
Christina Chang, the executive deputy commissioner and chief program officer with the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said the last inspection at the East Harlem daycare was in February.
The daycare had three violations, which were related to documentation around feeding and sleeping schedules for the children, as well as verification from doctors that the children did not have any infectious diseases.
“Corrective action” was undertaken to correct these violations, she said.
During the conference, Mayor Eric Adams said they want 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, do we have 3D printers that can print guns?” he continued. “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 centres where we place our children.”
The news conference explained that 3D-printed guns are among the easiest ways to obtain a gun because they can be made in the home for a cheap price. They have also gained the attention of younger children.
In 2021, 260 PMFs were recovered by New York police; in 2022 the number almost doubled with 436 PMFs found. New York officials regard ghost guns as a rising issue within their city.
The daycare, that opened in February 2021, in Harlem is under inspection and is currently closed.
“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,” Mayor Adams said.