Archive for the tag 'violence'

grimm2Congressman Michael Grimm, already in hot water over criminal charges that he evaded taxes and illegally employed undocumented immigrants, may have violated the internal ethics rules of the House of Representatives when he threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony in January.

The New York Times reports:

A one-page report by the office, a quasi-independent investigative body that serves almost like a grand jury, was released on Wednesday by the House Ethics Committee, the panel of lawmakers with the exclusive power to punish colleagues for ethical infractions.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, in a preliminary review, unanimously concluded in March that there was “substantial reason to believe that Representative Grimm threatened a reporter with bodily harm and engaged in a threatening or menacing act that created a fear of immediate injury,” which would violate local law in the District of Columbia as well as House ethics rules.

Grimm made headlines the night of the State of the Union when he was caught on camera threatening NY1 reporter Michael Scotto. He told the reporter he would “break him like a boy” and throw him off the balcony of the Capitol rotunda.

Scotto was interviewing him about a federal investigation into the congressman’s campaign fundraising that later led to criminal indictments of several Grimm associates. Grimm himself has so far escaped charges on that matter, but was slapped with a 20-count indictment alleging financial and employment improprieties in connection to a restaurant he operated before entering Congress.

The House panel will not investigate further at this time, setting it aside at the request of federal prosecutors.

Mermaid Avenue and West 31st Street. (Source: Google Maps)

Mermaid Avenue and West 31st Street. (Source: Google Maps)

Two men were left injured after a gunman opened fire on a residential street in Coney Island on Saturday, and now elected officials are calling for increasing police resources to the peninsula.

The shooting happened at Mermaid Avenue and West 31st Street. The victims, a 22-year-old man who was shot in the neck, and a 32-year-old man shot in his leg, are both in stable condition, Metro reports.

It’s not clear what led to the shooting, but Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Councilman Mark Treyger and Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny joined the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative yesterday for a rally to request more cops in the area, with a renewed focus on patrolling the residential portion of the neighborhood rather than the amusement area.

Metro reports:

The elected leaders also asked that the city use Sandy recover funds to drive an job creation initiative, and that the Housing Authority open up local communal spaces and centers to all residents.

“The west end of Coney Island has historically been ignored and disrespected and not provided the resources and services needed to break this cycle of violence,” Treyger said in a statement on Saturday. “We can’t just focus on the neighborhood during the summer or during events like today’s Brooklyn Half Marathon, when the city reaps the benefits of the amusement area.”

Shootings are actually down in the 60th Precinct for 2014, according to the most recent Compstat data, ending on May 11. By that date, there were four recorded shooting incidents in 2014, as opposed to 11 during the same time period in 2013.

UPDATE (11:45 a.m.): I somehow missed this in my inbox, but Treyger sent out a press release over the weekend with more information on the proposals to make the area safer. From the press release:

He is calling on a number of city agencies to come together and create a comprehensive, all-out campaign to address and overcome violence in Coney Island, including:

  • More police resources. This includes additional Parks Enforcement Officers dedicated to Coney Island’s 2.5-mile boardwalk and amusement area, to relieve pressure off the 60th Precinct and allow it to dedicate its officers to patrolling the residential areas. In addition, the NYPD must recognize the need for additional security throughout the community all-year around including mobile command centers.
  • Focus by the city and NYCHA on job creation initiatives for local residents, including using Sandy recovery funds. “You can’t just react to violence, you must take steps to prevent it. The best way to take a gun out of someone’s hand is to provide them a job and an opportunity for a better life. NYCHA must join this effort by fulfilling its obligation to provide workforce training, especially in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy,” said Council Member Treyger.
  • NYCHA once again making its community centers and spaces open and accessible during from morning to evening for all residents, and expanding after-school opportunities for children and teens. Council Member Treyger is requesting that NYCHA take inventory of all common and public spaces to determine how they can better be used to benefit residents.
  • The forming by Council Member Treyger of a neighborhood clergy council to bring together religious leaders from throughout Coney Island to develop programs and strategies to end the violence. The launch of this effort will now be expedited in light of the recent shootings.

On Thursday, Council Member Treyger stood alongside Urban Neighborhood Services, Senator Diane Savino, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny and a number of local anti-violence activists and organizations to announce state funding secured for a Coney Island Anti-Violence Initiative. He is now pushing for funding to expand the city’s anti-violence program to Coney Island.

“I applaud Councilman Mark Treyger for trying to bring as much resources as possible from the New York City Council to fight this epidemic of gun violence which has gripped communities like ours. His leadership on the issue is not only appreciated but sorely needed as it will take all hands on deck to deal with the gun violence crisis in Coney Island,” said Mathylde Frontus, Founder and Executive Director of Urban Neighborhood Services and Acting Chair of the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative.

In addition, as part of his ongoing efforts to get illegal guns off the streets, Council Member Treyger is holding a gun buyback program in partnership with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Vivertio on Saturday, May 31st at Coney Island Gospel Assembly. He is also calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to include the hiring of more police officers in the upcoming city budget and is requesting that NYCHA providing funding for better security and cameras at its housing complexes.

Source: minnepixel/Flickr

A fight broke out in Coney Island’s McDonald’s (1403 Mermaid Avenue) on Easter Sunday, spilling out into the street where two men were stabbed, one fatally.

DNAinfo reports:

The two men, neither of whose identities were immediately released, had been inside the fast-food restaurant at the corner of Stillwell and Mermaid avenues when the fight erupted just before 11 p.m., sources said.

In the melee, a 20-year-old man was stabbed in the gut and another man was stabbed in the lower back, police said. The 20-year-old was pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital, police said.

The second man is in stable condition.

According to the Associated Press, the fight involved two “groups,” and investigators are piecing together the victims’ relationships to each other and the groups involved. They’re also still working to determine the number of people involved, and if the brawl was gang related.

There were no immediate arrests.

Borgella, left, and Evans, right.

Borgella, left, and Evans, right.

Convicted murderer Woody Borgella has been sentenced to 15-years-to-life in prison for the 2011 shooting death of his live-in girlfriend in their Midwood apartment.

A jury convicted Borgella, 31, earlier in March for shooting Lora Ann Evans in the chest, killing her. Borgella and Evans, a former porn actress turned self-help writer, had a short and tumultuous relationship that came to a head on September 19, 2011, when Borgella ended a financial dispute with gunfire.

“This defendant killed a woman in cold blood and casually walked away without looking back. Now that he will be spending the next 15- years or more behind bars, walking away from what he did will not be an option,” said District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, in a statement.

Borgella was convicted for murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon.

According to the district attorney, Borgella and Evans were in a heated argument. Evans was on the bed, armed with a knife, struggling to keep Borgella at bay. A roommate heard the commotion and entered the room to break up the fight when Borgella drew a gun and shot Evans once in the chest, killing her.

Borgella fled on foot and ditched the gun behind a neighboring building. He remained on the run for two days before turning himself in to the 70th Precinct.

The convicted killer told the jury that he never intended to kill Evans, and that he was defending himself from his knife-wielding beau.

“I was just scared for my life,” he said while on the stand, according to a report by Brooklyn News Service.

The outlet reported that Borgella met Evans in June 2011, when Evans was unemployed and homeless. He invited her to move into the 1506 Ocean Avenue apartment he shared with two childhood friends.

Before moving to Brooklyn, Evans worked in the adult film industry under the names Lori Alexia and Penna Piererra. She quit the industry in 2009 to pursue a music career, and also launched a self-help website.

After the shooting, cops told reporters that Borgella had been named as the attacker on three separate domestic violence reports, although none related to Evans. He also had five prior arrests for drug possession, robbery, assault and theft.

braggst

Police took a Sheepshead Bay woman into custody on Tuesday after her 2-year-old son died from an apparent beating last week.

The 19-year-old mother has not been identified, but lived on Bragg Street near Avenue V, according to the Daily News.

Her son was rushed to Coney Island Hospital last week, while vomiting and struggling to breathe, the paper reports. Doctors believed the boy had fractured ribs and began preparing for emergency surgery. He died of internal injuries before they could operate.

The hospital notified the city authorities, and police took the mother into custody after the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, the paper reports. Charges are pending.

avei

Avenue I and East 16th Street, the scene of the shooting. (Source: Google Maps)

A 23-year-old Canarsie man was killed and another man seriously injured in what appears to be a drive-by shooting in Midwood early Saturday morning.

At approximately 4:00 a.m. the two victims were in a 2011 Toyota Camry at Avenue I and East 16th Street when a gunman opened fire.

The Daily News reports:

“I was riding my bike when I heard, ‘Bang! Bang! Bang!’ ” said a 45-year-old area resident. “It was so loud I thought they were shooting at me at first.”

[Gerard] Grant, who was driving, was shot four times in the chest and died, slumped over the steering wheel, police said. His friend suffered two wounds to the left side of the head and shoulder and was rushed to Kings County Hospital.

Grant’s family said they didn’t know about the shooting until police called.

“For us it’s impossible to say what could have gotten (Grant) involved in this because he’s a pretty good kid,” said his uncle Wallace Grant, 65. “He’s not a gang member of any type.”

The Yeshiva World News has a little more speculation from cops at the scene:

Sources tell YWN that the murder is an isolated incident, and the victims as well as the perpetrators are not from the area. It appears the victims were followed for quite some time before they were shot. It’s possible that the perpetrators shot the victims on that particular street, after the victims’ vehicle entered the block – which is a dead-end, with no way for them to exit.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

ONLY ON SHEEPSHEAD BITES: Chaos overtook Kings Plaza Mall (5100 Kings Plaza) yesterday afternoon when approximately 500 teenagers became rowdy, causing security officials to call the police and temporarily shutter the mall for at least two hours to restore order.

The teens, who were off from school for winter break, flooded the mall, and security officials there became concerned for patrons’ safety when the kids became boisterous around 5:30 p.m., according to Kings Plaza’s head of security.

“They were just rowdy, they weren’t doing much,” the mall’s security chief told Sheepshead Bites this morning. “We called the police department and the police department escorted them in and out.”

The NYPD has not returned calls for comment about the incident, but the 63rd Precinct’s community affairs unit sent out the following e-mail, obtained by Sheepshead Bites, to community leaders this morning:

I received several phone calls last night regarding Kings Plaza…so I want to dispel any rumors you may or may not have heard.  We had a group of rambunctious teens acting like children in the mall last night.  We already had officers in the Mall at the time.  We took steps to ensure the safety of everyone in the mall and expelled the kids from the mall.  There were no reports of any injuries, larcenies, or property damaged.  Therefore there were no arrests made.

While rumors abounded on social media that a riot and gang disputes had caused the mall to close, mall security confirmed that there was no damage or theft during the incident, and no one including personnel was injured. Video of altercations with police and mall security found their way to Facebook and Twitter late in the day, including the video below showing teens clashing with what appears to be police officers from the 63rd Precinct.

Security officials also said the mall was never officially closed, although they did temporarily restrict access until the kids were ejected, and order was restored at approximately 8:00 p.m. – about an hour and a half before its usual closing time. Mall security said some businesses chose to stay closed the remainder of the day.

“Some of them kept their gate down and had their registers closed. We didn’t close. The mall was in business,” the security boss said.

Source: What What/Flickr

BETWEEN THE LINES: There has been a succession of media reports over the last few weeks about pedestrians being sucker-punched by a single attacker or one among a group of passing youngsters. The series of episodes reported in New York and several other states are being carelessly referred to as “the knockout game.”

How the media can collectively — and blithely — keep referring to these sporadic attacks as “the knockout game” is absurd. Whether or not the youths responsible and law enforcement apply that reference is one thing, but for the media to repeatedly use the trendy vernacular is appalling and unnecessary, as it subtly glorifies that sort of violence.

Continue Reading »

Source: ah zut/Flickr

The man believed to be behind the Friday morning attack of a Jewish man on the Midwood – Kensington border was not charged with a hate crime, despite calls from local elected officials who say that perpatrators of the so-called “knockout game” are specifically targeting Jewish victims.

The 2:00 a.m. attack on 18th Avenue and East 5th Street saw four men arrested, but Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’ office only filed charges against Amrit Marajh, who allegedly took the swing. He has been charged with misdemeanor assault, menacing and harassment charges, and has posted $750 bail. Police initially arrested him for a hate crime, a charge the district attorney did not press.

The assault is believed to be the latest incident of the violent “knockout game,” in which thugs take down unsuspecting passersby with a sucker punch before running off. The victim in this case was a 24-year-old Orthodox Jewish man.

Although it appears to be a national phenomenon, local leaders say the Brooklyn version has taken on an ugly racial edge, with the victims being Orthodox Jews living in Crown Heights, Midwood and Kensington.

CBS News reports:

One of the suspects, identified as Amrit Marajh, 28, was charged with aggravated assault as a hate crime, among other counts.

The other three suspects were released without charges.

… “I came across a group of people who were walking towards me, and I was able to hear them speaking loudly about this knockout game,” he said.

Kelly also told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin, “Just prior to it, (the assailants) were talking about the knockout game.”

The victim told investigators he heard one of the attackers say, “I’ll do it to this guy,” right before he was surrounded and punched, sources told CBS 2.

Marajh, through his lawyer, claims that the incident had nothing to do with the knockout game.

The Daily News reports:

Amrit Marajh, 28, had just left a bar on McDonald Ave. on Friday with four friends and was talking about boxing when the knockout game came up, police sources said.

“You can’t do that,” one member of the group said as they came upon Shmuel Perl, 24, according to a source.

Marajh allegedly said, “Yes I can, I’ll do it to this guy right now!” before punching Perl in the face, leaving him bruised.

Perl was not knocked out. According to news reports, all four appeared  intoxicated when they were arrested.

Authorities across the country have begun to question if the game even exists, or if the media is simply connecting a number of random acts that can occur on any given day.

The New York Times reports:

Yet police officials in several cities where such attacks have been reported said that the “game” amounted to little more than an urban myth, and that the attacks in question might be nothing more than the sort of random assaults that have always occurred.

And in New York City, police officials are struggling to determine whether they should advise the public to take precautions against the Knockout Game — or whether in fact it existed.

“We’re trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon,” Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said on Friday. “I mean, yes, something like this can happen. But we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have.”

Still, a diverse set of local elected have come forward to denounce the attacks. As we’ve already reported, Public Advocate-elect Letitia James, Councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch and Councilman David Greenfield have condemned the attacks, as has Assemblyman Dov Hikind. Later today, Congressmembers Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke, District Attorney-elect Ken Thompson, and Borough President-elect Eric Adams will hold a press conference doing the same.

Reverend Al Sharpton is also urging his supporters to speak out against the attacks, and is organizing a media campaign.

“If someone was running around talking about knocking out blacks, we would not be silent,” Sharpton said, according to CBS. “We cannot be silent.”

Sharpton aims to kick off a celebrity-driven public service announcement campaign to denounce the attacks.

kings-plaza

Eleven people turned out at a rally in front of Kings Plaza on Saturday to protest what they’re calling “Justice Reversed,” following the news that hate charges were dropped in a recent case in which black teens allegedly assaulted a white couple while shouting racial epithets.

It was a subdued protest that drew far fewer participants than anticipated, with more than 100 people saying they would attend the event on Facebook, yet less than a dozen showed. The group stood by the Flatbush Avenue entrance, guarded by nearly as many police as there were protesters, and commiserated about the perceived injustice and the safety of the community.

“I missed the [assault] by five minutes. I was walking home with my daughter and it could have happened to anyone,” said Linda Baker, the Mill Basin native who organized the rally. “It’s a hate crime. They screamed racial slurs and it goes both ways. In this neighborhood and in society it just seems to be only recognized when hate is against a minority and hate is not recognized against the white race. It’s ridiculous already.”

The protesters quietly and peacefully handed out fliers to passersby of all backgrounds about the attack, declaring in big, bold font “HATE CRIMES HAVE NO COLOR!!!!”

The group took issue with the news the week before that a grand jury decided to drop hate crime charges against Kashawn Kirton, 18, and Daehrell Finch, 17, two suspects that police arrested in connection with an assault of a couple near Kings Plaza on October 14 that authorites believed was racially motivated.

Kirton and Finch, along with two minors, were arrested shortly after the attack, in which Ronald Russo and his wife, Alanna, were attacked by a large group of black teenagers. The couple, both white, were reportedly subjected to racial epithets, with the suspects allegedly yelling “Get those crackers!” and “Get that white whore!”

The incident happened as the victims, stopped at the intersection of Avenue U and East 58th Street in their car. The group of African-American teenagers was crossing the street against the light, and Russo honked his horn. After one of the teens kicked the car Russo got out to assess the damage, and that was when he and his wife were attacked.

Although frustrated by the dropped charges, Baker and others at the event agreed that the details of the case were unclear, and that the grand jury may have had good reason to drop the charges. But they said they were bothered more by the lack of media coverage and outrage from elected officials about similar cases, and said it was indicative of what they believe is an unfair application of bias charges.

“We don’t know the whole story. Maybe they dropped the case because the guy got out of the car and started screaming racial epithets. And if he did then all bets are off as far as I’m concerned,” said John Lore, a Marine Park resident. “I’m very disappointed towards the lack of coverage. This Barney’s thing,” he said, referring to the tabloid frenzy over alleged discrimination at Barney’s and Macy’s retail outlets, “as far as I’m concerned, nothing’s been proved, everything’s an investigation. But what happened with these two people was real, that was very real, and it was deeply personal.”

“If the roles were reversed I’m quite sure this would’ve made headlines and it would have been on the cover of the Daily News. That Barney’s situation is minuscule compared to this,” Lore said.

Many at the rally said they had hoped elected officials would attend. Assemblyman Alan Maisel walked past the protest and talked to police officers, but did not stop to speak with protestors. Sheepshead Bites caught up with him, and he said he was unaware of the group, noting that he was there to attend a rally for Bill de Blasio that occurred earlier in the day. He was not recognized by the protesters.

Asked about the case, Maisel expressed confusion at its cause, or why protesters wanted to hear from elected officials.

“I didn’t bring the case to the grand jury. I didn’t see the evidence. I recommended they try to reach out to the district attorney,” Maisel said. “But what the police say is that the individuals that were attacked did not report any bias when they were questioned initially.”

He added: “I’m not sure what they’re protesting against. Certainly, I don’t know why they’re protesting here. They should protest on Joreleman Street or Adams Street,” where the courthouse and district attorney’s offices are located.

The victims in the case, Ronald and Alanna Russo, were invited to the protest. Baker said she was told through others that they did not want any publicity in connection to the case.

Calls to the district attorney’s office had not been returned as of this writing.

« Prev - Next »