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13 Gang Members Arrested After Turning Rockaway into 'Wild West,' DA Says

By Katie Honan | July 8, 2015 7:07pm
 An NYPD SkyWatch on Beach 66th Street and Beach Channel Drive, which was installed to help combat crime, police said.
An NYPD SkyWatch on Beach 66th Street and Beach Channel Drive, which was installed to help combat crime, police said.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

ARVERNE — More than a dozen suspected gang members were indicted Wednesday for conspiring to kill their rivals to avenge prior attacks — all while turning the neighborhood into the “Wild West,” the Queens District Attorney said.

Police officers conducted an early morning sweep and arrested 13 men and boys, ages 16 to 22, who bragged about shootings in Arverne and other neighborhoods on the peninsula on social media, prosecutors said. 

“The defendants are variously accused of turning the streets of Rockaway into the Wild West by acting in concert with one or more of their co-defendants to shoot and wound five individuals and firing weapons at no less than four other individuals,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a press release.

“Their alleged criminal and violent acts have no place in a civilized society.”

All of the suspects are members or associates of the “70Gs/G-Boyz,” a violent gang that fought two other gangs, Body Squad and FLOCC, for control on the peninsula, Brown said.

While the members are responsible for multiple shootings in 2014 and 2015 — when shootings spiked in the 101st and 100th precincts — they also conspired to buy additional firearms to kill or injure rival gang members from nearby housing projects, according to prosecutors.

The NYPD investigation included monitoring social media pages, where members boasted and even apologized for some shootings, and listening in on phone conversations from Rikers Island, officials said.

Members of the “70Gs/G-Boyz" often struck unintended targets as they shot their way to supremacy, officials said. 

After 21-year-old Joshua Simon, aka “Hat Boy,” “One Eye” and Bullseye,” accidentally shot an innocent bystander on April 13, 2014, he apologized to the victim on social media, police said.

He later shot a rival gang member on Aug. 6, 2014, the DA said, and was charged with multiple counts of second-degree attempted murder, assault, conspiracy and reckless endangerment.

He faces up to 25 years in prison.

Michael Motta, 23, who was also known as “White Boy,” “White Mike,” “Clay” and “Larry,” allegedly fired shots at rivals using a stolen handgun near P.S. 42 on Beach 65th Street, forcing pedestrians to run to safety, the DA said.

When a police officer arrived and told him to drop the handgun, he then turned the gun on the officer before dropping it, officials said.

He was also involved in other shootings, and was indicted on multiple counts of conspiracy, assault and reckless endangerment — facing 25 years in prison if convicted.

Another alleged gang member — Taedwon “Tae” Lyons, 17 — was allegedly involved in three shootings between May 11, 2014 and March 11, 2015, including the accidental shooting of a 12-year-old girl at a basketball tournament last August.

The rising crime on the peninsula was noted last week by a top NYPD official as an area of concern across the city, which has seen a record crime decrease.

When asked about it Monday, Bratton told AM 970 The Answer’s “The John Gambling Show” that the situation would be “resolved very, very quickly.”

He said the peninsula’s rising crime, which has increased since 2009, was the result of “problematic” housing projects.

He praised the massive sweep in a press release Wednesday.

“Let this investigation be a warning to those who use the streets of New York City as their personal battleground for gang activity — the NYPD has no tolerance for such violent acts and we will use all available resources to remove you from our neighborhoods in order to make this city safe and fair everywhere for everyone,” Bratton said.