Gang Rivalry Sparked Violence in Carroll Gardens, Police Say

By Nikhita Venugopal on October 2, 2013 8:56am 

Slideshow
 Capt. Justin Lenz lead the community council meeting on Oct. 1 at the Miccio Center.
76th Precinct Community Council Meeting
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RED HOOK — A longtime rivalry between gang members of two Brooklyn neighborhoods led to a street fight and shooting in Carroll Gardens, police said Tuesday.

On Sept. 16, a fight involving two groups of several teenagers — one from Gowanus and the other from Red Hook public housing projects — broke out in Carroll Park about 3:30 p.m., police said.

While one group played basketball, the other possibly taunted them, leading to the brawl, said Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff at a precinct meeting Tuesday night.

“Words were exchanged and then a fight broke out amongst those teenagers,” said Schiff at his last community council meeting for the 76th Precinct and the first for Capt. Justin Lenz, the precinct’s new commanding officer.

Hours later, about 7:50 p.m., gunshots were fired near Court and Carroll streets, just outside the neighborhood park, police said.

No injuries or damaged property were reported and police were able to retrieve shell casings of the bullets.

The incident resulted from a “longstanding dispute” between two rival gang members from housing projects in Red Hook and Gowanus although it was not linked to the earlier fight, police said.

A “stone cold gang member,” who was not immediately identified, from the Gowanus Houses had fired shots near Carroll Park after two Red Hook members who were “associated with his enemy” had pointed a gun at him and his girlfriend earlier that day. 

The Gowanus gang member, who has been arrested for robbery, larceny and linked to gun violence, was “forced to run home, let’s say,” Schiff said.

However, he returned later that night and fired shots as some Red Hook teenagers played basketball in the park.

“He fired some shots in the air and everyone scattered right away,” said Schiff.

The precinct’s efforts to curb gang violence from the two housing projects formed an “uneasy truce” between the rivals for more than a year, said Schiff.

The incident is the precinct’s first shooting since November.

“We all know that Carroll Park is one of the safest parks in this city,” said Schiff.

“But this is New York City,” he added. “Things do happen.”

Schiff added that there had been no violence in the neighborhood since last Tuesday.

Last week, officials announced that Schiff would be leaving the 76th Precinct and assigned to the 106th Precinct in Ozone Park, Queens.

As the new commanding officer, Lenz told locals, who packed into the meeting at the Miccio Center, that Carroll Park was one of the first places he had visited in the neighborhood.

He assured the troubled residents that cops would be stationed at the park from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and plainclothes officers would also be monitoring the area.

The park is located between Court, Smith, Carroll and President streets, just across the street from pre-K and elementary school P.S. 58 at 330 Smith St.

“It’s definitely something on my agenda,” said Lenz, who has been a member of the police department for 23 years.

But not all were convinced of the police’s assurances.

One local resident, who has three young sons in the neighborhood, said he had noticed more teenagers and older children hanging out in the park over last six to eight months.

“That park is a hotspot,” said Tracey Pinkard, the parent coordinator for the Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, at the meeting. “It's very volatile.”

Two students from the school at 610 Henry St. had been attacked during the afternoon fight, said Pinkard, adding that one had suffered a concussion.

A 63-year resident of Carroll Gardens, who declined to be named, remained cautious but resigned to the officer’s guarantee.

“We’ll see what happens,” she said.

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