Gang Crackdown Caused Rash of Gunpoint Muggings in Red Hook, Cops Say
Seven residents were robbed while walking in Red Hook between Aug. 14 and Aug. 28, Capt. Jeffrey Schiff, commanding officer of the 76th Precinct, said at a community council meeting Tuesday night.
The robberies occurred after police stepped-up pressure on two rival gangs in the Red Hook Houses, the city's second-largest public housing complex, Schiff said.
The Stone Cold Villains control the eastern half of the public housing complex, and the Mad Dogs control the western half, he said. Both groups, offshoots of the Bloods, are vying for control of a flagpole and grassy median at the center of the development, which is home to more than 6,000 residents.
On July 7, an alleged member of the Stone Cold Villains was wounded in a triple-shooting that left two others injured. The incident, believed to be an attempted hit, capped a string of shootings in Red Hook, and cops flooded the housing complex with narcotics, gang and uniformed cops.
"The gangs were not able to make their normal illegal income," Schiff said, due to the increased police presence.
"The gang members, the upper echelon, decided to recruit 14, 15, 16-year-old kids to go out and generate that income illegally, generating phone robberies, phone-snatchings and the like.
"They spread out and started committing a bunch of robberies."
St. John Frizell, the owner of restaurant Fort Defiance on Van Brunt Street, and his girlfriend, Jen Watson, were robbed at gunpoint within 10 days of each other while walking to and from the eatery.
"I am angry about it," said Frizell, 39, who was mugged by three teenagers about 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15. "This is just so brazen."
He praised Schiff and officers from the 76th Precinct, who walked door-to-door on Van Brunt Street last week posting "Wanted" posters and updating local residents and business owners.
"The police have been very active in the past couple weeks in reaching out to the community," Frizell said.
Monica Byrne, a chef at home/made on Van Brunt Street, said she agreed, but added that the incidents had left her shaken.
"I'm concerned when innocent people just trying to live their lives are having trouble trying to walk down the street," Byrne, 47, said. "It's definitely made us more conscious. We had our own staff promise not to walk anywhere alone. It's really upsetting."
Both the local precinct and the NYPD declined to state precisely when or where the robberies occurred, but Schiff confirmed Tuesday that cash, electronics and other valuables were stolen, and that no one was reported injured.
No arrests have been made.