Just after midnight on Father’s Day, a volley of gunshots crackled around 135th and Harlem River Drive, a violent break from an otherwise lovely getaway on the main road, a popular summer picnic spot.
At the end of it all, Darius Lee, a 21-year-old ace in basketball at Houston Baptist University, was dead. Eight others were injured.
Hours after Monday’s shooting, police tape marked the trash-strewn spot. Numbered yellow labels dotted the walkway to the East River Waterfront Esplanade, a pavilion next to the highway. It looked like the chaotic aftermath of every other summer barbecue in town: discarded Solo red cups, empty Modelo cans, an abandoned baseball cap. Two barbecues were left open, one with food still on the grill.
mr. Lee joined a grim roster over the weekend, with pleasant weather ushering in a spate of shootings across the country. While America’s eyes have been drawn in recent weeks to massive, highly publicized violence — 10 shot dead at a Buffalo supermarket, 19 killed at a Texas elementary school — the weekend’s shootings, from New York to Los Angeles, were the quieter, daily drumbeat. of American gun violence.
“It’s kind of random, if somebody gets hurt and dies, or somebody just gets hurt. Those things really just happen by chance,” said Ron Avi Astor, a professor of social welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles, who studies mass violence. “If we only look when a lot of people have died, we miss the bigger picture.”
The Department of Justice defines mass shootings as any incident in which four or more victims are killed. Other organizations define them as any time four or more people are shot.
“There is not one right answer. Both definitions include terrible things,” said Michael Anestis, executive director of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center at Rutgers University.
Public, indiscriminate mass shootings like the one in Buffalo or Uvalde, Texas, “represent about 1 percent or less of gun violence in America, and yet they take up about 95 percent of the oxygen in terms of the national conversation about gun violence,” says Dr. . said Anestis.
The lower profile attacks take a terrible toll of their own. This weekend only: At around 3 a.m. on Sunday, a gunman opened fire in the Ozone Park section of Queens, shooting three and killing one; in Washington, DC, a 15-year-old boy was shot and three others, including a police officer, were shot dead at a music festival; in Chicago, 47 people were shot; and in Philadelphia, nine shootings killed three and injured six.
A 17-year-old boy and a 23-year-old man were injured in a shooting behind a Target store in the Baldwin Hills area in Los Angeles on Saturday. And in the Fremont Street Experience, a pedestrianized street in downtown Las Vegas, a man was shot dead and a bystander injured on Sunday when gunshots erupted after a fight at a casino spilled outside.
Vestavia Hills, an affluent suburb of Birmingham, Ala., was also shocked after a 70-year-old visitor to an Episcopal church shot and killed three participants during a potluck on the evening of June 16.
In mass shootings, violence often feels random, said Dr. anesthetic. Assault weapons are often used and legally purchased, and the victims are often chosen at random. But incidents like the one in Harlem, or others that regularly occurred in the city, often target violence, or stem from a specific cattle ranching or feud.
And the weapons are often different: Police released a photo on Monday of a recovered firearm from Harlem River Drive — a handgun.
“That’s a different set of solutions,” said Dr. Anestis, adding that programs such as street-level violence interrupters, which work with victims in hospitals to cool off revenge shootings and street feuds, show promise.
Even as the number of shots decreases, their impact on bystanders has decreased. In May, an 11-year-old girl was killed when she was caught in the crossfire of teenagers in the Bronx. In March, a 12-year-old boy was struck and killed by a bullet while eating dinner with his family in a car in Brooklyn. And in April, a 61-year-old woman was shot dead in a crossfire in the Bronx.
On Monday, New York police officials said the other eight people shot overnight in the Harlem incident were stable.
Houston Baptist mourned Mr. Lee, who was due to graduate in December. He was recently named the university’s Male Student Athlete of the Year.
“We are in shock and cannot wrap our heads around this news,” his coach James Sears Bryant said in a statement.
Tea Kvetenadze and Simon Romero reporting contributed.