Tag Archive | "gang"

A memorial to Zulisker Redvetoski went up in front of 2414 Beaumont Ave. (ALICE GUILHAMON/ The Bronx Ink)

Belmont neighborhood shaken by killing of 22-year-old man

A memorial was put up in front of 2414 Beaumont Ave. (ALICE GUILHAMON/ The Bronx Ink)

A memorial in front of 2414 Beaumont Ave. for the latest victim of gunfire. (ALICE GUILHAMON/ The Bronx Ink)

On Thursday, nearly a week after a local 22-year-old man was fatally shot in the Belmont section of the Bronx, friends and neighbors gathered at a makeshift memorial in front of 3414 Beaumont Ave., where he had been gunned down. They had piled up dozens of candles, flowers and teddy bears in remembrance of Zulisker Redvetoski, whom they knew as “Zully.” Some left notes bidding him to “rest in peace” and they discussed their longstanding concern about shootings in the neighborhood.

Redvetoski was killed on Friday September 5th around 9 p.m., according to police. He was found with a gunshot wound in his torso on Beaumont Avenue at East 187th Street, and pronounced dead at St Barnabas Hospital. There were no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.

At his wake on Wednesday, friends, relatives, and neighbors flowed continuously in and out of the D’Bari funeral home. There was not one empty seat and many mourners had to stand in the back as scores of people passed by to pay their respects and comfort Redvetoski’s mother.

Friends and acquaintances wear this badge in remembrance of Zully (ALICE GUILHAMON/The Bronx Ink

Friends and acquaintances wear this badge in remembrance of “Zully.” (ALICE GUILHAMON/The Bronx Ink

After the wake, childhood friends and other acquaintances regrouped around the small memorial on Beaumont Avenue. On Thursday, a couple of young men stopped by, wearing large badges around their necks with Redvetoski’s picture on them. “We wear it to show our respect,” one of them said. Zully’s mourners categorically refused to share their names. Some tensely explained that they wanted to avoid trouble.

Redvetoski lived near Freeman Avenue with his mother. Neighbors said he was the father of a baby girl staying with her own mother. They described Redvetoski as “outgoing” and “a nice guy.” According to police, he had been arrested at least nine times for possessing marijuana and once for assault.

One of the slain man’s friends, Chris, said there is “a lot of heat between the blocks” around the neighborhood. He added that another one of his friends, John, met the same fate as Redvetoski two years ago.

Gang feuds have been raging in Belmont for a long time. A 1992 New York Times article  reported on that an attack took place at the same street corner more than 20 years ago. In the past year, there have been 14 shooting incidents in the 48th precinct, which covers Belmont. The local community board has listed Belmont as part of an “impact zone” — a high-crime area where extra police are deployed.

Across from the memorial, a man sitting outside one of the buildings, wary about revealing his name, said the disputes usually involve drug trafficking, especially around neighboring Prospect Avenue. A similar case of an unresolved shooting took place at the corner of Prospect Avenue and 187th  Street in 2012.

Some residents said that people were moving out of the neighborhood to escape the violence. In the nearby Vincent Ciccarone playground, Italian grandmothers complained about the absence of their children who moved upstate to raise their families in what they consider a safer environment. A young man who passed by the crime scene said he comes to Belmont to visit his mother, but that with the shootings around the area, he preferred to live elsewhere.

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38 Trinitarios gang members caught — NY Daily News

Officers caught 38 members of a gang and charged them with drug dealing, racketeering, and gun trafficking in an undercover raid today. They recovered $25,000 worth of drugs and 12 firearms, said a report from The New York Daily News. The NYPD, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Homeland Security rounded up the Dominican-based Trinitarios gang after a two-year probe into their activities.

Federal prosecutors said that the gang members, mostly from the Bronx and upper Manhattan, were responsible for assaults and murder to protect itself from rival gangs. They also sold firearms and sold them across state lines.

Captain Lorenzo Johnson, commanding officer of the NYPD’s Bronx gang squad, said that the gang was responsible for trafficking firearms around different states. “We believe we put a big dent in the Trinitarios gang,” he said. “Anytime we can help the community feel safer is a good day.”

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Bloody week in the Bronx

Bloody week in the Bronx

Violence in the Bronx has escalated in this week with three shootings in a span of three days, leaving a 4-year-old boy in critical condition and Bronx residents feeling rattled. Click on each marker for more details.

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Castle Hill crack cocaine trade on trial

Three alleged gang members face trial in Bronx Supreme Court for a series of drug crimes in Castle Hill. (CELIA LLOPIS-JEPSEN, Bronx Ink)

Jury selection continued yesterday for the latest round of a murder and conspiracy case in which prosecutors indicted 25 defendants for a series of crimes related to the crack cocaine trade in the South Bronx.

Kalieh McMorris, 23, and two brothers, Khalil Harris, 29 and Shariff Harris, 26, were among the few defendants who did not plead guilty. The three defendants face charges of conspiracy, assault, robbery and murder in Bronx Supreme Court.

The court is expected to hear testimony from more than a dozen witnesses in the trial that could last well into December. The prosecution plans to present transcripts from tapped telephone conversations as well as DNA and fingerprint evidence related to the murder of Russell Allen, 24, an alleged drug dealer.

Twenty of the original twenty-five defendants pleaded guilty and received sentences ranging from a year in jail to 10 to 20 years in prison. McMorris and the Harris brothers pleaded innocent and face at least 15 years in prison if convicted of the top charges against them for conspiracy.

Assistant District Attorney Adam Oustatcher said the crimes covered in the indictment began in February 2006, when McMorris allegedly shot two drug dealers at Castle Hill Houses, the same location where Allen was shot dead two years later.

Allen’s relatives were in attendance during the jury selection. His cousin, Ashley Jones, said she came to seek justice for her family.

“They killed my cousin,” Jones said. “We lost a family member and he’s never going to come back.”

McMorris is charged with murder, robbery, assault, conspiring to sell crack cocaine, and using teens under the age of 16 to assist him. Shariff Harris faces robbery, burglary and assault.

McMorris’ attorney Cesar Gonzalez said his client should be tried separately from the other defendants, as guilty verdicts against the Harris brothers, who are not charged with murder, might sway the jury on the additional charge against McMorris.

“What happens when you knock down one domino?” Gonzalez asked.

McMorris’ father, Jude Leon McMorris, said yesterday outside the courtroom that his son was not a murderer and that the DNA and fingerprints would prove that.

“He is a good kid,” said Father McMorris, a chaplain at Rikers Island. “He was going to school and doing the right thing. He wasn’t in any gangs.”

Father McMorris said his son hadn’t always listened to his parents, but that he had “made peace with God” during the three years he’s spent awaiting trial at Rikers Island, and was well respected there by inmates and guards alike.

“He’s been planting the seed that gang life is not the right path to take,” Father McMorris said.

The case against McMorris and the Harris brothers stems from a six-month wiretapping operation during which 24 lines were tapped and 140,000 phone calls were intercepted.

Two more defendants, including a third Harris brother, 28-year-old Hassan, are also awaiting trial.

With additional reporting by Steven Graboski

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McKinley Houses Reflect on Murder Conviction

The Rev. Wallace Diamond has lived at the McKinley Houses, a public housing project on East 161st Street, for 47 years. During that time, he has presided over the funerals of five young victims of gang violence. In August 2006, he buried the last two, 25-year-old Leonard Crocket and 20-year-old Jason Semidey, who were killed in a gang-related shooting in the complex’s basketball courts.

The basketball court where Leonard Crocket and Jason Semiday were shot to death, in August 2006. Photo by Alice Speri

On Tuesday, Gavin Murray, a Bloods gang member with a history of violence, was convicted of both murders.

Murray, who was 18 at the time of the incident, was arrested in June 2009 at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. He was charged with murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon and is also awaiting trial in relation to two earlier shootings. He faces up to life in prison.

For Diamond, who is also the president of the tenants association at McKinley Houses, the 2006 shooting marked a turning point in the community.

“The night that this happened I just got tired,” Diamond said. The next day, he summoned local authorities and community members, and led a demonstration to the site of the shooting.

“We took back our project,” he said. “Before, you couldn’t go in there because drug dealers had taken it, the kids couldn’t play there.”

“It’s quiet now, very quiet, no more drug dealers, nothing like that,” Diamond said, adding that more police have been patrolling the area. “The children are allowed to play out there.”

At the McKinley Houses, in Morrisania not everyone remembers the August 2006 shooting.

At the McKinley Houses, in Morrisania, not everyone remembers the August 2006 shooting. Photo by Alice Speri

Since then, Diamond has been mentoring local young people.

“They call us the OGs, the old guys,” he said of himself and other older residents who have been working to improve communication with the younger generation. “I earned their respect; they talk to me.”

Diamond has also helped Angela Griffin, the aunt of one of the victims, set up a foundation in his memory. The Jason Semidey Foundation, located at the nearby Forest Houses on Trinity Avenue, offers GED classes and assistance with resumes and job interviews.

“I knew Jason very well, he grew up with my kids, I used to encourage him to get a job,” said Diamond, adding that just two days before being shot, Semidey had started a job as a maintenance worker.

Diamond said that Semidey’s death has encouraged his friends to get jobs. “Something good came out of it,” he said. “He’s never gonna be forgotten.”

Some in the neighborhood, however, have forgotten the incident or moved on.

“I hate to be so nonchalant about this stuff,” said Daisy Hassel, a 30-year-old resident of the Forest Homes. “But I don’t remember that happening.”

There were 113 murders in the Bronx in 2009 alone, nearly a quarter of the total for the entire city. The number, however, shows a 14 percent decrease over the last four years.

“It’s not anything different from what happens in this area,” said Earl Childs, the program director at the McKinley Homes Community Center. “People get shot, life goes on.”

“Bloomberg says things are getting better,” Childs said. “But if you ask people around here, things are not getting better.” Childs also disagreed with Diamond about the increase in police presence.

“I don’t remember when is the last time I saw a cop around here,” Childs said.

Like Diamond, however, Childs refuses to give up and continues to mentor young people at the housing project, as he did before Crocket and Semidey were killed.

“The way we address this is to provide these kids with something else to do,” he said.

“We are talking about kids that live a life of hopelessness, there’s no way out; they think, I need to pick up a gun.” In a sense, Murray was a victim of this, too, Childs added.

To keep the memory of the victims alive, Diamond organizes a memorial event every Aug. 16 – the anniversary of the shooting – with candlelight vigils and a basketball tournament on the very court where Semidey fell to the ground.

But Childs says more has to be done.

“All programs are gonna have to work together,” he said. “All branches of the government, all youth services, the board of education.”

Diamond agreed.

“There’s gotta be more than a candlelight vigil,” he said.

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