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Eric Adams

Not True, Mayor Adams Says of Gun Incident He Wrote About in Book He Began With ‘All of the Incidents in This Book Are True’

Mayor Eric Adams denied an account written by State Senator Eric Adams in which he claimed to have fired a handgun at his schoolyard friends.

2:22 PM EST on January 8, 2024

The cover of "Don't Let It Happen" features a lunchbox and a firearm.

The cover of “Don’t Let It Happen” (Hell Gate)

At his weekly off-topic press conference on Monday morning, Mayor Eric Adams denied an account written by State Senator Eric Adams in which he claimed to have fired a handgun at his schoolyard friends. [Scroll down for an update to this story.]

Adams was asked about the passage in his 2009 book, "Don't Let It Happen," which the website Byline wrote about last week, and which Adams begins with the declaration, "All of the incidents in this book are true."

"I fired—what book is this?" Adams said in response to a question from an AP reporter. "I never fired a gun in school," Adams said.

The AP reporter then read Adams a portion of the excerpt from the book. Here's the relevant passage, which appears at the beginning of Chapter 8, which is entitled "Guns":

When I was a child, a friend of mine brought a gun to school…to show off to the rest of the students. This was my first time seeing a real gun. After years of playing 'Cowboys and Indians' with toy guns, I did not believe the gun he was showing us was real. I laughed at his stupid trick and grabbed the gun from him. 'If this gun is real,' I said, 'then it should go off.' I pointed what I thought was a toy gun at my group of friends and pulled the trigger. 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.

"You said fired in school?" Adams said on Monday. "I think the person who, the co-author of the book, may have misunderstood the exact—someone," the mayor said, reaching for words. "There was an incident in school where someone pointed what they thought was a toy gun and they may have misunderstood—that book never got into print because we never went through the proofreading aspect of it."

The back cover of "Don't Let It Happen" (Hell Gate)

This is a strange thing for Adams to say for several reasons. How would anyone know about the anecdote unless the book was in fact published? You can order the book on Amazon, like Hell Gate did back in November, though we paid $11.10 for it—now it's $13.62. The book was printed by Xulon Press, a Christian self-publishing company based in Florida.

And as anyone who holds a physical copy of "Don't Let It Happen" can attest, Adams does not mention a co-author, though his partner, Tracey Collins, wrote the foreward. In 2008, Adams wrote the foreward to Collins's book, also published with Xulon Press, called "Sweet Promptings," which is a self-help book meant to help people cultivate "sweetness, kindness, and compassion," as Adams wrote in the introduction. "We commend Tracey Collins for encouraging us to become the best of who we are while investing in the wellbeing of others," Adams wrote. (You can read more about Collins's and Adams relationship at the Table of Success.)

Asked about the mayor's statement, City Hall Press Secretary Charles Kretchmer Lutvak repeated the mayor's contentions that "the book should not have been published, and the mayor is looking into it. As he said, the coauthor may have misunderstood the story."

This left us with several follow-up questions.

  • Given that no co-author or collaborator is named in the book, who is the mayor referring to?
  • If the mayor is saying the incident did happen, but to someone else, not him, who did it happen to?
  • And was the mayor unaware until today that the book was in publication? He hasn't received any money from book sales?

We posed these questions to City Hall, and will update with a response. Xulon Press hasn't returned our call yet either, and Amazon hasn't yet explained why the cost of "Don't Let It Happen" has ticked up.

The relevant passage (Hell Gate)

As a former NYPD captain, firearms featured prominently in Adams's run for City Hall. Initially, Adams said he'd carry a weapon if he got the job, though he ended up walking that pledge back. And on the campaign trail in 2021, he repeatedly told the story about how his car window had been shot out in 1996, and he suggested it was fellow NYPD officers who weren't happy with his criticisms of the police department. Streetsblog (with the help of this reporter) investigated those claims and found them inconclusive. "It was one of the few cases I didn't solve," the NYPD detective assigned to the case said. "I just thought it was going to be a ground ball, but it turned out to be a nightmare for me."

The end of the introduction in which Adams writes that "All of the incidents in this book are true." (Hell Gate)

[UPDATE / 5:41 p.m.] A mayoral spokesperson wrote Hell Gate in an email that the mayor is asking the publisher to stop selling the book.

"The mayor has already contacted the publisher, who is working to take the book out of circulation," the spokesperson wrote.

According to the Mayor's Office, the book was written by a ghostwriter, and Adams never reviewed the version that was read to him today. The Mayor's Office also insists that Adams had no idea the book was publicly available until today, and that the mayor never made any money off its sale.

Hell Gate followed up with three questions:

  • Who was the "ghostwriter"?
  • Xulon Press is a self-publishing company. Is the mayor saying that the ghostwriter self-published this book without his permission or knowledge?
  • Does the mayor disavow the whole book?

The Mayor's Office responded to our email, but did not answer the questions, and merely reiterated that Adams never reviewed the book before it was published.

Hell Gate has filed a Freedom of Information Request for communications between Xulon Press and the Mayor's Office regarding Adams's request that the book be pulled from shelves.

[UPDATE / 7:45 p.m.] The book's listing appears to have been pulled from Xulon's website.

Screenshot

The book is still available for purchase on Amazon.

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