New York

‘Ghost’ Guns Found at East Harlem Day Deva Site, Officials Say

An East Harlem apartment functioning as a state-licensed day care site was being used by the son of the site’s operator to produce 3-D-printed “ghost” guns and parts for them, officials said on Wednesday.

It was the second time this month that a lethal hazard had been found at a home-based day care in New York City. On Sept. 15, a 1-year-old boy died of suspected fentanyl poisoning at a Bronx apartment where the potent drug near was discovered near nap mats and under the floor.

There are roughly 7,000 such home-based sites in the five boroughs, and the city health department inspects them on the state’s behalf. Mayor Eric Adams said on Wednesday that his administration would review its inspection procedures in light of the alarming incidents.

“We are going to remain vigilant” and “stay ahead of bad people that are doing bad things in environments where our children are,” Mr. Adams said at a news conference where he was joined by Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney; Edward A. Caban, the city’s police commissioner; and other top police officials.

The mayor added: “Who would have thought that we must add to our list of inspections: Do we have 3-D printers that can print guns? Do we see the presence of items like fentanyl?”

Ghost guns, also known as privately made firearms, lack serial numbers and are therefore untraceable. The parts used to build them are considered components, not actual guns, and online buyers need not undergo background checks or register the weapons.

Such guns are attractive to convicted felons, minors, domestic abusers subject to protective orders and others who cannot legally buy or own guns. The growing availability of 3-D printers, which can make plastic and metal parts for guns, has helped fuel the weapons’ spread.

On Tuesday, officials said, investigators executing a search warrant at the East Harlem apartment found a 3-D printer; two finished 3-D-printed guns; one nearly finished 3-D-printed assault pistol; and several other gun-making tools and components.

Karon J. Coley, 18, who lives at the apartment, was charged with several weapons-related counts as well as with acting in a manner injurious to a child. He was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday evening. It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer.

Mr. Coley’s mother, April Coley, holds a license from the state’s Office of Children and Family Services to operate a home-based day care out of the apartment, on the fifth floor of a building on East 117th Street, records show.

According to state rules, all household members 18 or older who live at a home where such a program operates must undergo a background check. Patrick Gallahue, a city health department spokesman, said Mr. Coley had passed a background check “within the past year.”

A woman who answered at a phone number listed on state records for the day care declined to comment. She did not identify herself.

The site, operating under the name Alay’s Day care, opened in February 2021 under a license set to run through February 2025, according to state inspection records. It was authorized to serve up to 12 children, age 6 weeks to 12 years, as well as an additional four school-age children.

City health inspectors found no violations at the apartment during a March 2022 visit, records show. The most recent inspection, in February, noted three violations involving paperwork related to issues like children’s sleeping and feeding habits and their health status. The violations were later corrected, records show.

Photos posted of the day care site posted online showed a room painted green and blue and adorned with books and posters of shapes and colors. A Facebook page, last updated in January, featured a festive holiday photo of eight babies with two smiling caregivers.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the family services agency said that its “top priority” was “the health and safety of all children in child care programs” and that “we are deeply troubled by these serious allegations.” She declined further comment on an active investigation.

Chelsia Rose Marcius contributed reporting.

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