2006-01-27 / Front Page

Shooting Greets Police Commish

By Miriam Rosenberg


The Good Guys: From left, 101 Precinct Community Affairs Officers Dennis Lewis and Detective Willie Olmeda with Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and retired police officer Michael Valentino, who was once a community affairs officer at the 101 Precinct. 
The Good Guys: From left, 101 Precinct Community Affairs Officers Dennis Lewis and Detective Willie Olmeda with Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and retired police officer Michael Valentino, who was once a community affairs officer at the 101 Precinct.

Gunfire erupted in Arverne Wednesday evening, sending Rockaway’s first shooting victim of 2006 to the hospital about an hour before Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly made a special visit to the 101 Precinct Community Council.

Shots rang out behind 440 Beach 54 Street – the Edgemere Houses – at about 4:45 p.m., police said. True Womack, 24, was shot one time in his right calf. The Jamaica, Queens, man went to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, where police discovered him a short time later.

The shooting sparked a massive mobilization of police in the 101 Precinct. The NYPD Emergency Services Unit responded to the scene and collected eight shell casings from 9mm and .380 handguns, suggesting that there could be more than one shooter. Police did not immediately have a suspect.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly speaks to community leaders at a special meeting of the 101 Precinct Community Council. Kelly said laws must be strengthened to stop the transportation of illegal guns into the city.  Photos by Miriam Rosenberg

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly speaks to community leaders at a special meeting of the 101 Precinct Community Council. Kelly said laws must be strengthened to stop the transportation of illegal guns into the city. Photos by Miriam Rosenberg The bloodshed – the first shooting on the peninsula this year – happened as Commissioner Kelly was en route to his meeting with the community council and local leaders. Kelly spoke about terrorism, quality of life issues and Operation Impact, which identifies hot spots of violent crimes and then assigns academy graduates to the areas. The Wave later had the opportunity to discuss with him the threat that illegal handguns pose to city residents.

Kelly called the issue a “multi-faceted” problem.

“The ideal would be to have a national gun program,” he said although convinced that Congress would not give its approval.

“Ninety percent of guns come from out of state,” he continued.

Statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the NYPD, recently appeared in the New York Times, showing that between January and June 2005 seventeen percent of the illegal guns in the city came from Virginia. Both North Carolina and Pennsylvania each contributed 12 percent, and South Carolina and Georgia each account for 10 percent. Florida, Alabama, Ohio and California were also sources of illegal weapons.

During the survey period, the Times reports that between 10 and 20 guns were recovered in the 100 Precinct, while between 20 and 30 guns were recovered in the 101 Precinct.

Kelly said New York needs to work with other states. “The crux of the problem is there is so only so much we can do here,” he said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced this month that removing illegal guns from city streets would be a priority of his administration. Kelly indicated that illegal guns would also be a key subject at Bloomberg’s “State of the City Address” on Thursday, and it was.

“Illegal guns have one purpose: to kill,” said the mayor. NYCTV channel cameras showed Kelly applauding in the audience.

While the survey in the Times shows that the use of illegal guns poses less of a problem in Rockaway than in other areas, Deputy Inspector Walter Salowski, the commanding officer of the 101 Precinct, is making sure his officers maintain a high level of vigilance. Salowski honored Officers Florio, Fabara, Handlesman and Konoski whose 65 arrests since September, 2005 included 19 gun arrests.

“That’s 38 percent of the precinct’s gun arrests since September,” said Salowski.

“Getting guns off the street is a high risk undertaking on the part of police officers,” Kelly told the audience.

Brian Magoolaghan contributed to this story.

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