Oct. 2, 2018 By Tara Law
The number of people murdered or shot in the 114 precinct this year has increased significantly compared to previous years, according to NYPD data.
Nine people have been murdered in the precinct for the year through Sept. 23, compared to just three for all of 2017 and two in 2016. The neighborhood has not experienced a year with nine or more murders since 2010.
The NYPD also reports that a total of 26 people have been shot in the course of 18 shootings in the precinct, compared to eight shootings with eight victims during the same period last year.
The precinct’s commander, Deputy Inspector Oswaldo Nuñez, attributes the jump to increased violence at Ravenswood and Queensbridge Houses.
Twelve of the 18 shootings have taken place in public housing, Nuñez said.
Many of these shooting are caused by rivalries between “crews”— small gangs with between 15 and 30 members, according to Nuñez.
Of the 14 active crews in the precinct, 12 are based in public housing. There are five known crews in Queensbridge Houses, four in Ravenswood Houses, two in Astoria Houses and one in Woodside Houses, Nuñez said at a precinct meeting earlier this year.
In recent months, however, a longtime rivalry between crews based out of Ravenswood and Queensbridge appears to have ratcheted up, Nuñez said.
The killings and shooting are over often over seemingly minor issues, Nuñez said.
“A lot of the shootings are over disrespect,” Nuñez said. “Trivial things. It could be about a girl, a history of not liking each other. Retaliation. It’s hard to pinpoint.”
Nuñez pointed to a shooting on Sept. 21, in which a 21-year-old man was shot twice in the buttocks at Astoria Houses. The people believed to have been involved in the shooting were known to have held a grudge against one another, Nuñez said.
The precinct has taken steps to deescalate the violence by deploying more officers at the public housing developments at night, when many of the crimes have been taking place, Nunez said. More officers are being assigned to street duty and are working overtime hours, he added.
To a lesser extent, some high-profile domestic murders have also driven up the murder rate for 2018. For instance, on July 30, a man killed three people— including his five-year-old son— on 30th Drive.
Such crimes are “very difficult to prevent,” Nuñez said.
Nunez said the numbers also appear high this year because in previous years the crime figures were “remarkably” low.
Nuñez said that a certain level of fluctuation from year to year is to be expected.
“I think we’re just having a bad year,” he said. “Crime goes up and down.”
Community leaders who work with residents at Queensbridge and Ravenswood Houses said that there is a lot of tension right now between crews at the respective housing developments.
“Its seems as if the territorial beef between Ravenswood and Queensbridge has been ramped up,” said Bishop Mitchell Taylor, the senior pastor of Center of Hope International, a non-denominational church located by Queensbridge Houses.
Taylor said that the rivalry between the two developments has been a recurring problem for the community for many years.
At the same time, Taylor praised the efforts of the 114 Precinct. He said the precinct has developed a line of communication with the public housing community.
“I think the NYPD has made great strides in terms of public outreach and communication, but there’s always more to do,” Taylor said. “They are very actively reaching out to me and to other community leaders.”
Carol Wilkins, the president of the Ravenswood Houses Tenant Association, said that she’s noticed an increased police presence in the development. The key to combating violence in the housing developments, Wilkins feels, is to “build community.”
“There’s so much hated, and we’ve got to open our eyes as a community and combat this hatred,” Wilkins said.
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