Shot Thug Free On Failure To Identify
At about 4:10 p.m. on June 29, 2007, 15-year-old Katrina Shinn was sitting on a bench in front of 81-10 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, just enjoying the day. Unfortunately, police say, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time because Ronnie Smalls, 21, a reputed GIB gang member, who lived at 8600 Shore Front Parkway, decided to take a shot at a rival gang member named Tylique Rollinson.
Smalls was arrested on July 1 on charges of attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a minor.
Locals wonder why Smalls was not in jail rather than on Beach Channel Drive on January 5, when he was shot and killed after pointing his weapon at police officers, who tried to question him.
Smalls and his brothers were well known to police officers in both of Rockaway's precincts.
He had been arrested a number of times for possession of a weapon and drugs.
In June of 2006, he was shot twice in the back but refused to cooperate with detectives trying to find the shooter.
One brother, Cedric Smalls, is dead, shot during the drug war that hit Rockaway late in 2006. Andrew Smalls, another brother, is in jail for the murder of Laton Spurgeon in Wavecrest, a man who was thought to be involved with Cedric's murder.
Yet, when the attempted murder case was taken to a Queens grand jury, that body failed to vote for a "true bill" that would have indicted Smalls for his actions.
"The case was presented to the grand jury and it voted no true bill, which effectively dismissed the charges against Smalls," said Kevin Ryan, a spokesperson for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
While Ryan declined to comment on the grand jury proceedings, which are sealed, a source close to the investigation told The Wave that neither the victim nor any of the witnesses would identify Smalls as the shooter.
That source speculated that most of the witnesses were afraid to testify against a gang member because of possible retaliation against them or their families.
Police say that an undercover team from the 101 Precinct spotted Smalls and another man walking on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 63 Street at 1:04 a.m. on January 5.
The police were looking for Smalls in connection with a November 2007 incident in which he allegedly threw away a gun and eluded police.
On January 5, Smalls reportedly tried to walk away from police once again.
One of the undercover cops followed him to Beach 63 Street, where Smalls allegedly pulled a gun and pointed it at the cops. It is still unclear whether he actually fired a shot at the cops, but they responded, killing him.
"Smalls was on the street because local witnesses to his past crimes were afraid to point the finger at him," our source, who would only speak on the promise of anonymity, said. "If people really want to take back their streets, they're going to have to start cooperating with police to put the thugs away."