THE BRONX — Senior citizens in the Allerton neighborhood where an 88-year-old woman was found beaten to death called for better security measures Monday to offset an uptick in neighborhood crimes.
The brutal killing of Evelyn Shapiro, who was found bludgeoned to death over the weekend in her home, an apartment at 2455 Williamsbridge Road in the Pelham Parkway Houses, left elderly residents terrified that one of them could be next.
"I'm sick. I feel very bad, and mad," said Emma Palermo, 72, who has lived in the public housing complex for 21 years.
"A healthy lady," she added, referring to Shapiro. "Why did she have to die that way?"
The apparent victim of a push-in robbery, Shapiro was found beaten and bloodied in her 5th-floor apartment, police said. The front door was ajar, cops added, and there were no apparent signs of forced entry.
The medical examiner said an autopsy Sunday determined that the cause of death was blunt impact to the head, skull fracture and and brain injuries.
Her body has been released to a funeral home, officials said.
No one has been arrested.
The NYPD and relatives have offered $12,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of her killer or killers.
An NYPD Crime Stoppers van has been slowly riding the streets, encouraging witnesses to come forward, police said.
The killing sent shock waves throughout the neighborhood.
City Councilman James Vacca met Monday with 30 longtime residents of the Pelham Parkway Houses.
"There are very few things that have shaken me the way this has shaken me," he told them. He said crime has spiked over the last four years.
According to NYPD crime statistics in the 49th Precinct, which polices the projects and surrounding area, the number of murders, rapes and robberies have increased in the last year. In 2012 up through June 10, there have been four murders compared to one at the same time last year; there have been 9 rapes, one more than in 2011; and 147 robberies compared to 138, a 6.5-percent jump.
"We've had things we've never had before," Vacca said, referring specifically to the housing projects. "We've had gang activity that we've never had before."
Those in attendance said their buildings lack, among other security measures, surveillance cameras.
Brad Silver, of the Bronx Jewish Community Council, which sponsored the meeting, said more than 45 percent of the apartments have senior heads of households.
"We've been talking to them about safety issues for some time," he said.
Sheila Stainback, a spokeswoman for the New York City Housing Authority, which oversees the complex, said there were no closed-circuit television cameras at Pelham Parkway Houses because the agency is hampered by a lack of funding.
"NYCHA does not have the funding to install these systems at all developments but will install where elected officials have allocated discrestionary funding for these security measures," she said in a statement. "Installation weighs greatly on allocation of funds."
Still, residents in the projects said no matter the funding, the danger is out of control. Vacca even referred to a section of the complex as "Siberia."
Rosina Gunn, 68, a 41-year resident at Pelham, said things were different back in the day.
"Everything was nice," she said. "Today, anything goes."
Now, she does a religious ritual before leaving her home.
"You know what I do when I go out the door?" she said, making the sign of the cross with her hand. "God, help me go out and come back safe."