Residents spoke out about recent gun violence in the neighborhood at the 70th Precinct Community Council meeting Wednesday evening, demanding answers to the exponential rise in homicides in the precinct this year.
Several community members who live near Beverley Road and Ocean Avenue asked about two shootings that have occurred in the last two weeks. One where a 23-year-old man was shot in the head in the stairwell of his apartment building at 1819 Beverley Road and another Sunday evening near Ocean Avenue.
Neighbor Sarah Williams, who lives on East 18th Street, said she was concerned about the escalation of gun violence and wanted to know what efforts were being made to address the issue.
Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Richard DiBlasio said that while there has been an increase in homicides in the precinct this year, there have been fewer shootings overall, citing the current number of shootings at 21 for the year.
He tried to assure the crowd that the precinct has one of the best clearance rates — meaning arrest rates — in the city. “Our detectives are working hard. These incidents don’t go unnoticed,” said DiBlasio. “We want to bring gun violence down.”
When asked by another neighbor what, if any, differences there might be to cause the homicide rate to be so high compared with last year, DiBlasio said that his officers are making arrests and removing firearms and there has been no change in the way they are working to close cases. “Addressing the violence is our number one concern,” he said.
Neighbors Mike and Alexis, who live on East 21st Street near Beverley Road, were dissatisfied with the answers DeBlasio gave to community concerns. “We moved in two years ago and we see drug dealers and prostitutes on our block regularly,” said Alexis.
“We want to say in the neighborhood, but if it gets unsafe to raise a family, we’ll have to leave,” said Mike. “We just aren’t getting a response from the Precinct.”
DiBlasio honored several members of the anti-crime patrol with the Police Officer of the Month award. Seargant John Henderson and PO Luis DiFranco responded to car crash in mid-October and while assisting an injured passenger, saw a pink firearm in the vehicle. They confiscated the gun and arrested the two occupants of the vehicle.
During the meeting, the community also said good-bye to Community Affairs officer Detective Dominick Scotto, who has been promoted to a position in the Chief of Department‘s office. Scotto has worked in the 70th Precinct for 25 years.
The Flatbush Shomrim, the Pakistani Merchants Association, and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte joined the 70th Precinct Community Council in congratulating Detective Scotto on his service to the 70th Precinct and wishing him well in his new position.
Detective Scotto’s replacement in the Community Affairs office is Police Officer Michael Smith, who has worked for the 70th Precinct for 21 years, including working as the Auxiliary Coordinator for many years.
The next 70th Precinct Community Council meeting will take place on Wednesday, December 16 at 7:30pm at the United Cerebral Palsy auditorium. A holiday party will follow the meeting and the council is asking for volunteers to help with the festivities.