Jesus Ortiz, the man who shot his East Village neighbor after buying a gun on Craigslist, was committed to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in a criminal court hearing in Manhattan yesterday. He was being held by the Department of Corrections since the incident last July. Often defense lawyers will argue that their clients are mentally ill and therefore not fully responsible for their crimes. But in this case, even the city agreed that Ortiz had serious mental health issues and needed to be institutionalized.
And so, again, we ask: how was this (now more clearly) mentally-ill man able buy a gun on Craigslist? Craigslist spokesman Jim Buckmaster tells the Voice that they don’t allow the sale of firearms, and “to my knowledge it has not been established that the defendant purchased a gun on Craigslist.” So we’ll have to wait for what comes out in the courtroom for an answer.
And how was he able to get a permit? (He is reported, but not confirmed, to have had one.) The District Attorney’s office won’t comment. So far, all we know is that it was an individual and not a gun shop that sold him the gun.
While Craigslist doesn’t allow gun ads, founder Craig Newmark said earlier this month at an annual conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy in George Washington University that he is considering allowing the ads on the site.