CROWN HEIGHTS – Four men are dead and three others wounded, after one or more men opened fire in a gambling den early Saturday morning police said. The Crown Heights social club is a block from the 77th Precinct.
At least two guns were recovered at the scene police say, but it was not clear if they were the weapons used in the shooting. Police were searching area hospitals for anyone walking in with gunshot wounds they may have suffered at the Private & Social Rental Space at 74 Utica Avenue around 7 am this morning.
Area residents expressed outrage that the illegal gambling den had been running a block from the precinct, but were more upset that “guns were again used to settle disagreements.”
Police were unable to say at this time the motive for the shooting or rule out a possible robbery.
Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said four men were pronounced dead at the scene, while three others, a woman and two men, were wounded and rushed to local hospitals with “non-life threatening injuries.”
Another man who was thought to have been shot, was only injured while trying to escape the shooting rampage, apparently making his way out of the rear of the location through a fence. He was being held in custody pending further investigation and as a material witness.
“We have tentative identifications that two reside out of state, remaining are from different parts of Brooklyn,” Shea said. “A number of videos have been located in close proximity and inside the location and are now part of the investigation. We have two firearms, and multiple shots were fired all contained within the location.”
Meanwhile, dozens of family members and friends gathered at the corner of Pacific Street and Utica Avenue awaiting word of their loved ones. (The street is named after Michael Griffith, who was killed in 1986 in Howard Beach after being struck by a car when he was chased by an angry mob for being a black man in a white neighborhood).
Many who were in tears were either family or friends of those in the club.
“Yes, we are pretty sure my cousin was in there, but we don’t know for sure but we think he’s in there – but they are saying that they dead in there,” said one young woman who would not be identified but said her cousin is 49. “His whole family is here and we are just waiting to find out.”
Not long after, her family was given the bad news, a woman identified as the mother of one of the victims collapsing on the street in tears.
“It was just a matter of time that this was going to happen,” a neighbor who identified only as Jorge said as he entered his building on Pacific Street, overlooking the rear of the location.
“It was non-stop 24/7 activity there and precinct 77 knows about it,” he said. “There was a problem here recently where some guys were going to shoot another and he yelled for other guys to come out of the club with guns.”
The building owner, identified only as ‘Mike’ said he had “no idea what was going on in the club.”
“I’m sorry for what happened – I don’t have too much I can say except that I own the building and I rent the place and that person has a lease,” Mike the landlord said. “It’s totally shocking, but I can’t speak no more because I don’t know what went on in there.”
A woman who identified herself as Queen said she has family and friends she believes are dead inside the club.
“This happens because we don’t put value on our lives and so when put value, then change will happen,” Queen said. “There is a precinct over there and nobody knows nothing; the owner doesn’t know nothing – that is our problem. This happened right next to precinct across the street and nobody knows nothing and that’s because nobody values our lives.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams stopped by the scene, but encountered angry neighbors when he mentioned gang activity. He quickly reversed himself after talking with relatives and neighbors.
“This was a mass shooting, four killed here, several shot and injured and there appears to be more than one person carrying a gun in this social club,” Adams said. “It appears to be an illegal club, although the owner said he rented it for events, and we don’t know how evolved into illegal activity.”
Adams said the mass shooting is “symptomatic of a large number of shootings in Brooklyn North.
“We have to have a conversation about mass shootings and gun violence. While the federal government is focused on AK-47’s and assault weapons, the vast majority of guns used are handguns and the victims are black and brown in poor communities and is typical for big cities,” Adams added.
“This really gives an incorrect picture of this community when you have a mass shooting,” Adams explained. “This is a safe community and residents don’t want to experience anything like this. When you drive past, it says social club, so the first thing you think is not about illegal activities. People walk past and saw the place for years and thought everything normal. It was not until something like this of this magnitude does it get attention. It was a social club, but then selling alcohol or gambling makes it illegal.”
UPDATED: Police have identified the deceased as follows:
- Terence Bishop, 36, of Howard Avenue, Brooklyn
- Dominick Wimbush, 47, of Macdonough Street, Brooklyn
- Chester Goode, 37, of East 99th Street, Brooklyn
- John Thomas, 32, of Ralph Avenue, Brooklyn
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or on Twitter @NYPDTips.
All calls are kept strictly confidential.