‘Shots Fired’ Is Last Straw For Building’s Neighbors
“I heard three distinctive shots and then a pause and then two more,” says retired firefighter Palmer Doyle, who lives nearby. “Neighbors came out of their homes to see what was going on. Everybody was really scared.”
According to police sources, there were at least a dozen calls to the 911 system reporting the shots.
Despite the fact that patrol officers from the 100 precinct responded quickly to the calls, police sources say that no expended shells were found at the scene.
A check of local hospitals by police found nobody with gunshot wounds at either Peninsula Hospital Center or St. John’s Episcopal Hospital.
The NYPD’s aviation and emergency service units were called in to check nearby rooftops and back yards, but to no avail.
An NYPD helicopter designated as Aviation 14 hovered over the area for more than a half-hour, alerting hundreds of residents from Beach 1116 Street to Beach 140 Street that there was a police search going on in the area.
Some locals who heard the shots believed that they were firecrackers.
“My son thought the pops were firecrackers,” Doyle said. “I knew what they were.”
Another local who heard the shots and went to take a look was Daniel Ruscillo.
“That building has been causing us problems for a long time,” Ruscillo said. “I was not surprised that somebody in the building had a gun.”
“This has been an ongoing problem,” he added. “The precinct has been cooperative with constant visits to the building and occasionally making an arrest. There was an improvement for a while, but recently, it has gotten worse than ever.”
Ruscillo points to the fact that car batteries, rocks and paint balloons have been tossed out the building’s windows, aimed at passing automobiles on Rockaway Beach Boulevard.
Police sources say, however, that there have been 39 response calls to that address in the past year, more than half of them aided cases, where an injury or medical condition required an ambulance and a patrol car.
“To tell the truth, that building has not been as much of a problem as some other buildings in the precinct,” one local police source said, pointing to 96-18 and 96-20 Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Rockaway Park as the main problem buildings in the area.
Shawn Mann, the managing agent for 123-11 Rockaway Limited Liability Company (LLC), which owns the building, contacted The Wave on Wednesday from Canada.
Mann identified himself as one of the owners of the building and said that the owners are attempting to “Maintain the building up to the status of the neighborhood.”
Mann, who has owned the building just over a year, says that of the 41 units in the building, only 13 are now occupied and that his super, Halil, is working hard to keep the building up to code.
“Being on the beach block gives the building lots of potential,” Mann said. “We want to change it so that it will be what it once was.”
A number of residents, however, do not want to wait for the owner to reform the building.
They have contacted Community Board 14, asking that the Housing Task Force, that was so instrumental in closing down a number of single room occupancy houses in the west end in past years be used to check 123-11.
Jonathan Gaska, the district manager for CB 14 told The Wave that he was prepared to have the task force address the problems in the building.
“We have received only a few complaints about the building,” he said. If there is a problem there, however, we should address that, especially after shots were fired in the building.”