Bronx gun bust shocks neighborhood

3081 Villa Avenue, in Bedford Park, where police uncovered a sizable weapon cache. Photo by Alex Eriksen

By Alex Eriksen

The news earlier this week that federal agents discovered a sizeable arsenal of guns in a Bronx apartment surprised and alarmed neighbors in a community that includes a day care center.

“I’m in shock, I had no idea,” said Jenny Nunez, 21. Nunez works at Adi’s Group Family Day Care, directly across the street from the raided apartment on Villa Ave in Norwood. “It’s usually pretty quiet.” Just behind her building is the St. Phillip Neri School and church.

Police and Federal Agents raided an apartment at 3081 Villa Ave in Bedford Park on Thursday expecting to find drugs.

They found some small amounts of cocaine and marijuana, some scales and various paraphernalia, but the big discovery was waiting for police in the bedroom, packed in four suitcases.

Inside, an arsenal of weapons: five assault rifles, several handguns, m80 explosives with blasting caps, and a trove of ammunition. Police recovered a bulletproof vest and a pair of night vision goggles as well.

Police arrested the tenant, Victor Miri, 29, along with his older brother, Tonin Miri, 30. The two men have been charged with drug and weapon possession.

Nunez’s mother, Abia, 44, has run the day care next door for nine years. “It used to be a good neighborhood, right now I’m not sure,” said Nunez.

The neighborhood sits east of the Grand Concourse, near Lehman College. You can see it from the No. 4 train at the Bedford Park stop, the Roman-gothic buildings, the baseball field.

Villa Ave is just a block from the station, surrounded by small businesses: a nail salon, a diner, two different bakeries with the same owner.

On the corner of Villa Avenue, at Madden’s Pub, other neighbors were talking about the bust. Diana Ortiz, 52, the bartender, passed around a clipping from the New York Post. “It’s a scary thing,” Ortiz said. Overall though, she said, the area is relatively safe. “During the summer it was kind of rough, people in a new building were causing trouble, but that’s quieted down,” says Ortiz.

Donald Anderson, 77, sat at the end of the bar. He said he has lived in the Bronx his entire life and he remembers a very different neighborhood. He was seven when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and he recalled collecting metal in the neighborhood for the war effort.

“A different world,’’ he said.

Across the street at Mi Casa Bakery and coffee shop, Michael Velasquez, 21, works behind the counter. “It can be pretty ugly,” admits Velasquez, “we’ve been robbed, there are shootings sometimes, but mostly it’s quiet.”

Michael Mandell, 78, a longtime resident sat at another table. “You don’t really know what’s going on,” Mandell said, “until it happens.”

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