Complaints about noise have exploded since the pandemic, and the conflicts they cause have turned deadly.
At least four recent killings have been tied to noise, with the most recent episode involving a 27-year-old Bronx dad who was killed in a dispute over loud music.
The victim’s fiancée and mother of his two children said they had made several complaints about the neighbor’s noise, but nothing at all changed. The victim then walked across the hall to confront the neighbor and was allegedly stabbed in the back.
There have been several other noise-provoked homicides.
In December, a runway model living in a Manhattan homeless shelter was killed by being stabbed in a hallway by her roommate in an argument over loud music. Just a day later, a 39-year-old Bronx man was shot to death by a housemate from a separate floor over noise complaints in Pelham Gardens. And in January, another dispute over loud music resulted in a deadly stabbing in University Heights in the Bronx. A man became incensed over noise from the next-door apartment and stabbed his neighbor twice before also murdering her friend, police said. He surrendered with a smile to the police.
There have been almost 40,000 noise complaints called into 311 this month, and roughly the same in the past few months, according to NYC Open Data. This year’s winter months are seeing about a 40% rise in 311 noise complaints compared with winter 2019.
Arline Bronzaft, an environmental psychologist, said numerous reasons are to blame, including more time spent at home, working from home, outdoor dining, loud cars, mufflers, and helicopter noise.
“Noise can really drive people to be aggressive — have there been arguments? Yes. Are people pounding the ceilings until the noise comes down? Absolutely,” Bronzaft said. “In New York City, neighbor noise is a serious problem, because we do have apartment buildings and people do live close to each other … and things changed during COVID, when people started to work from home.”
Rachel Miller-Bradshaw, a City Council District 14 resident, which receives among the highest numbers of 311 noise complaints in the city, said that she’s noticed the increase starting with COVID-19.
“It’s a major issue,” she said. “Every New Yorker, regardless of socioeconomic status or neighborhood you reside in, has a right to a serene living environment, at least outside of normal business hours, and after the pandemic things definitely did get worse.”
“It’s really declining the quality of life here,” Miller-Bradshaw continued. She said she knows people who’ve moved away because of the volume of annoying noise.
The truth is loud and clear: noise can be fatal.