2007-08-31 / Community

Gun Violence Increases In Bungalow Area of Far Rockaway

By Miriam Rosenberg

In an area where crime reportedly comes in cycles, the residents of Beach 26 Street have begun to watch their backs as gun violence has increased over the last few weeks.

Two residents, who both asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, have spoken with The Wave about the new gun activity in the area.

One resident said it started with shots fired on the evening of Friday, August 17, followed by two gun incidents over the following weekend.

"We had gunshots Friday [August 17] and a drive-by shooting at Beach 26 Street and Seagirt Boulevard on Saturday [August 18]," said the bungalow owner. "Then at 1 a.m. [early Sunday morning] more shots were fired and the police were called."

According to the resident, those firing the weapons during the drive-by incident were shooting at a market on the corner of Beach 26 Street and Seagirt Boulevard.

"Somebody was apprehended," said the resident.

Yet another homeowner says the violence first began several days before August 17.

"Four or five days prior to that, in the late evening, I heard gun shots. I called a neighbor, who was actually sitting on my porch using her computer and she said three guys came off the boardwalk and there was gun fire."

Crime in that area, from Beach 25 to Beach 32, comes and goes in cycles, explained Jonathan Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14.

"There are long periods that the area is quiet, and then there is a lot of activity," said Gaska. He then talked about what he thinks has caused the current upturn in violence.

"All the new housing there was not done smartly," continued the district manager. "It brought in people with issues other than lack of housing, such as unemployment - they don't have skills - and other social problems, plus unemployment causes problems.

"The city, through Section 8, helps people find housing, but they don't give services such as job training and other social services to help people get their lives in order."

A source at the NYPD agreed with Gaska assessment that "Section 8 is part of the problem." Residents agree with Gaska and the NYPD representative about the source of the violence.

"I think some of them are squatters," said one of the local residents.

"They show up at certain hours. When the cops come, they go inside. Then the cops leave," said the resident. It's an endless game. Somebody is going to get hurt."

While another resident is calling for beat cops, the lack of available officers make that impossible at the current time.

While residents say they would love to increase the police presence in the area, the police source said they just don't have the manpower.

"We are increasing [car] patrols," he said.

Although things seem to have quieted down in the last week, one of the residents still believes there are guns in the area.

"The police need to get warrants - there are 30, 40 people locked in a home waiting for the police to leave," said a resident about when police respond to calls.

The NYPD declined to comment about the gun incidents.

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