Police officers found a grisly scene outside a Brooklyn pawnshop early Thursday after a 911 caller discovered a woman’s dismembered torso that had been stuffed into a shopping cart.
The unidentified body had been placed in a large bag that was inside the shopping cart, the police said. It was found in a mostly industrial section of East New York, Brooklyn, near Broadway Junction, where roadways and elevated subway lines crisscross storefronts and warehouses near a parkway entrance.
The police released few details, other than to say that the investigation was ongoing and that the medical examiner would determine the cause of death.
Yellow police tape surrounded the pawnshop — its steel shutters down — at the northwest corner of Pennsylvania and Atlantic Avenues on Thursday, with detectives and uniformed officers milling inside the cordon, denying shoppers entry to a small construction supply store on Atlantic Avenue that was also behind the tape.
“I understand there was a horrible incident,” said the construction store’s owner, Sung Hong, as he stepped outside to survey the scene.
Mr. Hong, 64, said an employee had called at around 7 a.m. to say police wouldn’t let him open the store. He said he arrived at the store an hour later from his home on Long Island, and it took another half-hour of pleading with officers to be allowed inside.
A native of South Korea who has lived in New York for 36 years and has operated what he called “a mom-and-pop store” for five, Mr. Hong said the news added to his anxieties about crime in New York, which he said were already heightened by a string of violent attacks against people of Asian backgrounds like himself.
“It’s getting worse and worse,” he said, musing aloud that the Covid pandemic was contributing to an increase in violent crime. “I don’t know what’s going on. It’s like people have become crazy.”
Police had also taped off two more areas of sidewalk along Pennsylvania Avenue, one north of the intersection and one south, but by late morning only the intersection near the pawnshop remained off limits.