NYC Mayor Eric Adams says tale of him firing a gun at school that’s recounted in his book didn’t actually happen

Even for Eric Adams, whose hardscrabble upbringing featured heavily in his rise to become mayor of New York City, the tale of his near-miss school shooting was harrowing.

One day at school, Adams was hanging out with a group of friends when someone showed up with a gun, according to his 2009 book, “Don’t Let It Happen.” Still a child at the time, Adams believed the weapon was a fake.

“I pointed what I thought was a toy gun at my group of friends and pulled the trigger,” the passage reads. “A round discharged, and only by the grace of God and my poor aim did the bullet miss my friends. The incident scared me so much that I dropped the gun and ran.”

Mayor Eric Adams speaks during a press conference at City Hall in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)

But at a news conference Monday, a few days after the passage was highlighted in an article by the publication Byline, Adams said the dramatic encounter did not happen.

“I never fired a gun in school,” he said. “The co-author of the book may have misunderstood” an incident “where someone pointed what they thought was a toy gun,” he added.

Adams then said the book “never got into print because it never went through the proof-reading aspect of it.”

However the book, which lists only Adams as an author, is currently for sale on Amazon and the Barnes & Noble website, and a physical copy was shown to Adams on Monday. It was also mentioned in a 2021 New York Magazine cover story about Adams, and a 2022 Politico profile.

A City Hall spokesperson said after the press conference that the mayor had never reviewed the final version of the book and only just learned it was publicly available.

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“The mayor has already contacted the publisher, who is working to take the book out of circulation,” the spokesperson, Charles Lutvak, said in an email. He said the mayor had worked on the book with a ghostwriter, who he declined to name.

In 2009, Adams, a former NYPD captain, was a state senator representing Brooklyn. The book’s back cover says it was intended to assist parents “in detecting when their children may be involved in potentially harmful activities.”

It was released by Xulon Press, a company that specializes in self-published Christian titles and is owned by Salem Media Group, a powerful conservative publisher. Inquiries to Xulon were not returned on Monday.

Across 150 pages, the book dispenses practical advice to readers on subjects such as teenage pregnancy and alcohol abuse — “Malt liquor is considered the bad boy of the beer family,” it reads — as well as how to find your child’s weapons stash, echoing an instructional video that Adams would record two years later.

Raised by a single mother in South Jamaica, Queens, Adams has frequently touted his working class roots, recently telling constituents that he would pray for snow as a child so he would have something to drink when his home’s water was turned off.

But some of the personal stories, which are often difficult to verify, have drawn scrutiny. He has admitted to The New York Times that a confrontation he claimed to have had with a neighbor, which he recounted in 2019 commencement address, actually happened to someone else. And he has faced questions about minor changes he has made to an oft-told story about being beaten up by police as a child.

In 2020, Adams penned a cookbook promoting “plant-based” recipes. But two years later, he conceded that he sometimes eats fish, despite describing himself as a vegan in the past.

“Don’t Let It Happen,” his first book, includes a colorful cover featuring a revolver in a pink lunchbox, as well as a forward credited to Adams’ longtime domestic partner, Tracey Collins.

In the introduction, the author provides readers with an assurance: “All of the incidents in this book are true.”

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Mayor Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain and current mayor of New York City, wrote a book in 2009 that detailed a harrowing incident from his childhood in which he nearly shot his friends with a gun at school. However, Adams recently denied that the incident ever occurred, claiming that the co-author of the book may have misunderstood or misrepresented the story. Despite this, the book is currently for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The mayor has since contacted the publisher to remove the book from circulation. Adams has faced scrutiny for other personal stories and has also faced questions about changes to his account of being beaten up by police as a child and his dietary habits. The book, “Don’t Let It Happen,” was intended to help parents detect potentially harmful activities in their children, and provides practical advice on various subjects. Despite these controversies, Adams’ rise from a hardscrabble upbringing to become mayor of New York City has been a central theme in his political career.

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