Byron Morales was killed outside of Chelsea’s Dream Hotel in Downtown New York. The incident early morning Thursday occurred around 12:20 a.m. on West 16th Street near Ninth Avenue after two men got into an argument.

One man pulled a gun and fired into the 25-year-old man’s gut, ultimately killing him. The events unfolded out of a luxury hotel chain, the same block as several nightclubs frequented by high-profile celebrities.

Byron Morales was rushed to Lenox Hill Hospital by EMS where he was pronounced dead. The victim was reportedly a member of the Outlaws street gang, leading investigators to expect the shooting to be gang-related.

Byron Morales is a known gang member, having had a prior arrest on his record. He was arrested in August 2020 during a traffic stop in Brooklyn for the possession of stolen credit cards, counterfeit bills, and marijuana. Police are investigating the motive for his killer.

The shooter is still at large, having fled the scene in a white Jeep with other men, though his identity is still unknown. The unidentified shooter had gotten into a verbal dispute with Byron Morales, who was described as a Brooklyn resident, and not a guest at Chelsea’s Dream Hotel.

Police suspect the victim, Byron Morales, was leaving the Tao Downtown Restaurant when the incident began. Early morning Thursday, a few hours after the shooting, rapper Busta Rhymes was identified near the crime scene. There is no confirmation why the famous rapper, dressed in an orange and black patterned shirt, was congregating on the block.

Byron Morales Shot Outside Of Chelsea's Dream Hotel in Downtown New York. Busta Rhyme Spotted Near Crime Scene A Few Hours Later
Byron Morales Shot Outside Of Chelsea’s Dream Hotel in Downtown New York. Busta Rhyme Spotted Near Crime Scene A Few Hours Later. Photo Credit: Busta Rhyme/Instagram

One witness, who saw the aftermath of the shooting, said that “there’s just too much crime in the city these days, they have to increase police funding.” The witness continued, saying “there’s just too much violence going on in the city now. It’s a reminder of the old days, we have to increase security in the city. It’s sad, it’s scary.”

New York City has seen a surge of violent crimes in recent months, as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. A recent slew of subway attacks and shootings on city streets have sparked outrage among residents and political leaders, who are afraid of the rising crime.

In subways, crime has risen 93 percent since last year and shooting are up 166 percent. Mayor Bill de Blasio claims that Covid-19 is the primary cause. The social effects of the virus and its restrictions on the public are still being identified.

De Blasio claims that “we’re showing across the board in this city, we’re coming back.” The mayor continued, saying “our jobs are coming back. Our schools are coming back. The life of the city is coming back. We will fight back crime as well. I think it’s understandable that people are concerned.”