Police Charge 100 Suspected Gang Members in Raid on Harlem Housing Projects
HARLEM — More than 100 suspected Harlem gang members have been indicted on charges stemming from a deadly rivalry between Grant Houses and Manhattanville Houses that resulted in the 2011 shooting death of basketball star Tayshana "Chicken" Murphy.
Two murders and 20 shootings related to the ongoing feud are mentioned in an indictment, according to law enforcement sources. Those indicted face charges of conspiracy to commit murder and weapons possession.
The indictments "encompass years of gang warfare," according to law enforcement sources.
Police helicopters hovered in the area of both housing complexes near 125th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue in West Harlem early Wednesday morning as arrests in the case were made. Police also gathered on Morningside Avenue and 119th Street where they took multiple people into custody.
News of the indictments was first reported by the New York Daily News.
Robert Cartagena and Tyshawn Brockington were both convicted of second-degree murder in the Sept. 11, 2011 shooting death of Murphy at Grant Houses.
According to prosecutors, both men, associated with the Manhattanville Houses, went to the Grant Houses around 4 a.m. that day as part of an ongoing dispute between young people at the two developments.
Cartagena had been assaulted in a dispute the day before the murder, according to authorities. When the two men showed up at the Grant Houses, Murphy, 18, ran.
The men gave chase to the fourth floor and Murphy could be heard pleading for her life before three shots were fired. It was unclear who fired the fatal shots.
Cartagena and Brockington received sentences of 25 years to life in prison. A third man authorities accused of providing the murder weapon was acquitted.
Despite the convictions and attempts by local anti-violence activists to broker peace between young people at the two developments, the conflict has raged on, authorities say.
On Morningside Avenue and 119th Street Wednesday morning, dozens of police led men to a black van, their hands cuffed behind their backs using plastic restraints.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has repeatedly used the tactic of charging the so-called youth crews or gangs with conspiracy charges using statements made on social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.
Recently, the final two defendants arrested in a takedown of 62 people in three violent East Harlem gangs entered guilty pleas and face up to 25 years in prison.
Homicides and shootings in East Harlem's 23rd Precinct have dropped precipitously since the arrests, according to statistics and police there.