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Families in mourning for slain teenagers

By Dunia Kamal and Delphine Reuter

Gladys Wright was lying in her bed on Sunday morning and could not fall asleep because she was waiting for her great-granddaughter, Quanisha, 16, to come home. Instead she got a phone call from Quanisha’s friend who told her that she had been shot at a birthday party in an apartment on Weeks Avenue, four blocks away from her apartment.

“I’m always praying. When you’re out there on the street, you never know if you’re gonna make it back home,” Wright, 86, said on Monday as she ate deli sandwiches for lunch with Quanisha’s brothers, Hassan, 13 and Trayquan, 14. Next to her sat Quanisha’s empty chair as a subtle painful sign of her loss.

Gladys Wright, 86, the great-grandmother of Quanisha Wright who was killed on Sunday morning at a birthday party sits in her apartment in mourning on Monday. (Delphine Reuter/ The Bronx Ink)

Gladys Wright, 86, the great-grandmother of Quanisha Wright who was killed on Sunday morning at a birthday party sits in her apartment in mourning on Monday. (Delphine Reuter/ The Bronx Ink)

Quanisha who had just celebrated her 16th birthday on Friday joined her friend Marvin Wiggins, 15, Saturday evening to celebrate his godson’s first birthday. They stayed after the party ended around 9 p.m. to help clean up then started an after-party with their friends.

“They wanted to have a little time” for themselves, said Eva Reed, the baby’s grandmother, who lives in the building where the party took place.

Around 1:15 a.m., said people who were present, two drunken men arrived at the party and opened fire. They were allegedly upset about a disagreement that took place earlier in the evening and were seeking revenge. Wiggins was shot when he threw himself between the shooters and Doreen Eleazer, Reed’s neighbor.

As panicked party-goers fled the scene, Reed said, Quanisha was shot in the stomach and ran toward the backdoor where she crouched down next to her friend Shonta Crosby. Both men ran out.

According to police,two men, Dexter “Lil Dex” Green, 20, and Robert “Jacob” Mitchell, 24, were arrested Monday and charged with murder in the shootings.

“They took something precious from me. She was my treasure,” Wright, who was Quanisha’s guardian, said of the shooters. “I want them to be punished.”

Monday morning, Hassan Wright, was sitting on his sister’s bed, reading the news of her death in the paper. He was at his aunt’s house when his sister was shot. He described her as “unique, smart and beautiful,” and said that he misses her.

(Dunia Kamal/The Bronx Ink)

Hassan Wright, 13, lays on his sister, Quanisha's bed the day after she was killed during a birthday party. (Dunia Kamal/The Bronx Ink)

Quanisha loved dancing and planned on improving her step-dancing skills with friends over next summer. “She was always there for everybody,” said Wright’s friend, Delores Shazeia Pinkston, 16.

Pinkston also knew Marvin Wiggins. She left a potato chip bag for him by the candle memorial set up at his building’s entrance. Friends and family hung a white T-shirt in the building’s entrance, on which they wrote condolences. Marvin and Quanisha went to the same school from sixth to eight grade, said Marvin’s mother, Andrea Wiggins.

On Monday afternoon, Wiggins’ apartment was filled with family and friends in mourning. They watched the news on television hoping they could learn more about the crime.

“Marvin was a loving child. He didn’t want anybody being hurt and now he’s gone,” she said before shouting and wailing in anguish.

When Andrea called the police, to ask about the suspects, she was pleased to hear that an arrest was made. The memory of her son dying in her husband’s arms makes her very angry at the neighborhood’s rampant crime.

“All I want is to stop violence and get guns off the streets,” she said.

(Dunia Kamal/ The Bronx Ink)

Delores Shazeia Pinkston, 16, a friend of Marvin Wiggins who was shot and killed on Sunday morning writes on a memorial in the hallway of his apartment building. (Delphine Reuter/ The Bronx Ink)

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Breaking the Bronx’s waves

Watching his team maneuver with binoculars, Frank Pizzo stood on a black buoyant platform with the rest of his apprentice sailors, commenting on the skippers’ decision as a new race was starting. At first, the boats seemed to float with no specific purpose, and from a distance the white triangular sails looked lifeless. Responding to an invisible signal, they suddenly started sliding across the surface of the river toward a barge anchored not far from the Throggs Neck bridge. The colored stripes and numbers adorning the sails came in and out of view as the skillful students were seen shifting their position in each boat, briskly inverting their course as they took advantage of changing winds and currents. On each boat, two silhouettes were coordinating their every move, pulling on lines, tucking their feet into the boat and straightening their bodies over the water, while keeping an eye on the boom, a light bar on which the sail is attached and which sweeps from side to side with every one of the sail’s moves.

Strong winds gave college sailing teams ideal conditions to compete in the Admiral Moore Collegiate Team Race Regatta last weekend at SUNY Maritime School in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx. In teams of two, clad in waterproof equipment and wearing their college colors over their life jackets, 60 students took turns in racing their small sailing boats across the East River, known for its strong current.

“It’s a bit of a quirky venue,” said Pizzo, coach of the Polar Bears, from Bowdoin College of Brunswick, Maine.

SUNY Maritime School hosts the Admiral Moore regatta every year. College sailing teams, mostly from the Northeast, attend the spring event. Among the competitors were Connecticut College, St. Mary’s of Maryland, Boston College and the University of Michigan. Boston College won this weekend’s regatta, while SUNY Maritime ended seventh out of 10 teams.

“That’s why you don’t see so many smiling faces clinging up around here,” said Rob Crafa, director for Waterfront programs at SUNY Maritime.

Crafa said many  freshmen joined the team this year and are still learning. The competition this weekend was fierce with one of the other teams probably in good standing to win the national championships this year.

“It’s great for our students to be able to sail against those guys,” he said.

Students from 10 different college sailing teams faced strong winds and currents in the Admiral Moore regatta on March 28. (Delphine Reuter/ The Bronx Ink)

Students from 10 different college sailing teams faced strong winds and currents in the Admiral Moore regatta on March 28. (Delphine Reuter/ The Bronx Ink)

Russ O’Reilly, the SUNY Maritime sailing coach, said that this weekend regatta was actually more of a preparation for the Middle Atlantic Intercollegiate Sailing Association (MAISA) Team Race Championship taking place in mid-April, which will also be hosted by SUNY Maritime College.

The school owns 26 Vanguard Club 420 sail boats, a fleet big enough for the top 10 Mid-Atlantic teams to race together every year. The 10 teams were chosen in December for the next spring and fall regattas.

Last weekend, the top four teams took part in 21 races, while the bottom six raced 18 times. The regatta began at 10 a.m. and lasted until about 3:30 p.m., just as the rain chased onlookers away from the dock. Crafa said that the next championship in April will happen faster because only the top eight teams will be able to participate, including SUNY Maritime.

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VIDEO – Bronx Small Businesses Missing Out on Savings

A recent study shows that less than 1% of NYC small businesses are taking advantage of offered city and state energy conservation programs. Small businesses are missing out on saving thousands of dollars on their energy bills.

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