2011-06-17 / Front Page

Gangbangers Collide

By Howard Schwach


Police guard a number of young men who had been arrested for fighting at Beach 118 Street on Thursday, June 9. Others had already been transported to the stationhouse. Photo by Howard Schwach Police guard a number of young men who had been arrested for fighting at Beach 118 Street on Thursday, June 9. Others had already been transported to the stationhouse. Photo by Howard Schwach Cops from both the 100 Precinct and Transit District 23 had their hands full on Thursday afternoon, June 9, as a series of gang fights that started in the late afternoon on Beach 118 Street in Rockaway wound up ending with a shooting incident on the A train between Broad Channel and Howard Beach later that evening.

With a day off from school due to a staff development day and with temperatures reaching for 100 degrees, the beaches were mobbed, with thousands of beachgoers centering on the Beach 116 Street shopping area and spreading out for many blocks both east and west. One local, Chris Wallace, who was on the beach that day, said that the crowds of “DFDs” were definitely not law-abiding.

“People who live in the neighborhood were afraid to go to their own beach,” Wallace said. “There were mobs of people drinking openly, smoking pot and carrying weapons. Rival gangs were getting into fights all over the place because of all the kids who swarmed to the beach.”

Police sources say that about 4 p.m. a large fight on the beach at Beach 118 Street quickly spread to other areas. Officers were called in and a Level One mobilization was called, bringing cops from all over southern Queens.

A number of those who were fighting, some of whom were juveniles, were taken into custody. Police sources say that the majority of those who were arrested had known gang affiliations.

When the crowds left the beach, the great majority of them headed for the MTA buses and subways.

When one rider got on the A Train at Beach 90 Street, another popular station for beachgoers, he found “large groups of kids fighting, smoking, jumping turnstiles and breaking the law.”

The trains were stopped in Rockaway, however, because at 6:30 p.m. shots were fired on a Manhattan-bound train at the Howard Beach Station.

According to eyewitnesses who spoke to Mark Morales of the New York Daily News, three shots rang out from the last car on the train.

“I heard the gunshots and heard everybody yelling to get down,” said Genesis Fernandez, who was heading home to Brooklyn from a day at the Rockaway beach. “I was really frightened. The fight started on the beach in Rockaway and went on here on the subway.” “[On the beach,] they were fighting and throwing gang signs at each other. At the subway, they didn’t want anybody from another gang getting on the train. That led to more fights in the station and the gunshots. I ducked,” another eyewitness, who asked not to be identified told a Wave reporter.

Police said that the shooters jumped off the train and ran down the tracks. Three young men were arrested for trespassing on the tracks, but no weapon was found.

When the A Train was shut down, hundreds of riders, stuck at the Broad Channel Station, walked to Cross Bay Boulevard looking for a way to get to Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Police reported that they got dozens of calls from Broad Channel residents, complaining of marauding gangs of youths, climbing on porches, destroying property and causing myriad problems for residents.

More than a dozen young men were arrested for participating in the fights at Rockaway.

Police sources, however, declined to identify those who were arrested or what neighborhoods they came from.

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