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'Despair' in Ingersoll Houses Led to Weekend Murders, Residents Say

By Rosa Goldensohn | September 24, 2015 11:22am
 Johnson, 52, a lifelong Ingersoll resident, said she is afraid of young men in the halls.
Johnson, 52, a lifelong Ingersoll resident, said she is afraid of young men in the halls.
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DNAinfo/Rosa Goldensohn

FORT GREENE — Dorothy Johnson sat in a walker crying at the edge of a Monday morning press conference at the Ingersoll Houses, where local politicians and community leaders came to decry three weekend murders there.

Johnson was mourning for one of the victims, Lacount Simmons, 39, who went by the nickname "Kojak."

“My father gave him the name Kojak when he was a little, little boy because his hair was always shaved real clean,” she said. “And he would sit at my kitchen table when I got up on the morning, I was much older, I was a teenager, and he’d eat breakfast with my father.”

Simmons, Herbert Brown, 76, and Calvin Clinkscales, 43, were outside the housing complex at 58 Fleet Walk when they were gunned down in what police believe was a drug-related dispute. 

Johnson said she had been feeling safer recently sitting outside at the houses, but after the murders she is afraid again.

"I got comfortable with talking with these young men and taking back our building and telling them 'no, don’t hang out here,' and they’ll walk away with respect," she said. "Now, I’m even scared to really sit outside, to even tell these young men, you know, don’t hang out in the building, because I don’t know, I might be next."

Johnson blames unemployment for her friend’s demise.

“No jobs," she said. “And it’s despair so they turn to selling drugs and doing whatever they want to do and hanging out. And you know there’s no good that’s going to come out of that.” 

At the conference on the corner of Myrtle Avenue and Ashland Place, Public Advocate Letitia James wondered aloud why nearby development had not manifested in more jobs for locals, and connected the problem to Sunday’s shootings.

“Why are we not addressing the high rate of unemployment of black men in Ingersoll, Whitman and Farragut?” she asked. “Countless numbers of individuals cannot get construction jobs in Downtown Brooklyn. And why is it that individuals that live on one side of Flatbush Avenue cannot enjoy the benefits of the other side of Flatbush Avenue, all the development in Downtown Brooklyn?”

The benefits of nearby luxury condo construction have yet to trickle over to Ingersoll, according to Anthony Sosa, president of the Ingersoll Residents’ Association.

“We could see big business across the street, but my people don’t work,” he said.

Several longtime Ingersoll residents attributed the shootings to “young men” involved in the drug market to make money.

“Being unemployed, you got to find all kinds of means to make money, take care of your family and stuff,” said C-Allah Coombs, 67, who said he spoke with the victims on the street 15 minutes before they were killed.