12-Year-Old Girl Latest Victim of Surge in Rockaway Shootings
ARVERNE — A teen was arrested for shooting a 12-year-old girl who was watching a basketball game at a "children's day" celebration over the weekend, the latest victim amid a more than 70 percent spike in gunplay in the area, according to the NYPD.
Amid the shootings, local politicians are pushing to bring more anti-violence initiatives to the area and fight back against the culture of "no snitching" that has stymied some investigations.
Police said the 12-year-old victim was shot in the left thigh while standing near the boardwalk ramp watching a basketball tournament at Beach 59th Street and Shore Front Parkway about 2:45 p.m. Saturday.
Surveillance video showed the suspect, Dwight Henderson, 18, of Arverne, riding a skateboard and chasing after an unknown cyclist on the boardwalk, according to the criminal complaint.
When the bicyclist rode up the boardwalk ramp, Henderson allegedly fired at him, striking the victim who was standing nearby.
Witnesses gave officers the description of him after he fled through a parking lot and jumped a fence to get away, police said.
He was caught after police officers saw him allegedly handing his gun off to Geena Hill, 16, at Beach 60th and Larkin streets, and both were arrested.
Henderson was charged with attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment and resisting arrest, among other charges. His lawyer could not be immediately be reached for comment.
Hill was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and a defaced weapon. A message left for her lawyer was not immediately returned.
The victim was brought to North Shore-LIJ Hospital in stable condition.
Shootings in the 101st Precinct, which covers the eastern end of the peninsula, are up 73 percent so far this year compared with last year — from 11 last year to 19 as of Aug. 3.
During the past 28 days, shootings were up to 9 compared to 4 during the same period last year within the precinct.
And the 100th Precinct, which covers the western western end of the peninsula, saw a 60 percent uptick in shootings since 2013, from five to eight.
A total of 28 people have been hurt in these incidents, although none fatally, police said.
Councilman Donovan Richards, who represents the east end of the peninsula, said he's working on ways to stop violence by funding programs and encouraging residents to speak out if they know people have guns.
"We are doing everything we can to reach the young people," he said.
He said a pattern of "no snitching" has made it difficult to get guns off the streets, but was happy that residents helped police on Saturday to identify the shooter.
"If you're not telling, you're aiding these guys to shoot and hit a 12-year-old in the leg," he said.
Richards told DNAinfo New York that he's bringing the City Council's task force to curb violence — currently in the South Bronx, Harlem, Jamaica, East New York and the North Shore of Staten Island — to the Rockaway peninsula through the CureViolence initiative.
Up to $500,000 will be used to fund after-school, job readiness, mental health and other preventative programs to address issues with young residents.
"I'm hoping it will at least chip away" at the violence, Richards said, adding that a combination of programs, including gun buy backs and other activities, can curb the problems.
"We have a lot of work to do," he said. "We just have to save a life at a time."