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Gangs Responsible for Most of Williamsburg's Shootings This Year, NYPD Says

By Serena Dai | October 15, 2015 8:30am
 Shootings have gone up in Williamsburg this year, largely due to gang activity. Here, police monitor the scene after a shooting on Grand Street.
Shootings have gone up in Williamsburg this year, largely due to gang activity. Here, police monitor the scene after a shooting on Grand Street.
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DNAinfo/Serena Dai

WILLIAMSBURG — Shootings have risen sharply in the area over the past two years, with much of this year's violence stemming from gang-related conflicts involving individuals from outside the neighborhood, police said.

The 90th Precinct, which covers south and east Williamsburg, has seen 16 shooting incidents so far this year — a 60 percent jump from the 10 shootings recorded during the same time frame two years ago, according to police.

The number of shootings in 2015 is also up over last year, when there were 13 during the same period, police said.

But unlike the past two years, a majority of this year's shootings — 13 of 16 — were gang-related, said Deputy Inspector Mark DiPaolo, the precinct's commanding officer. 

Police have arrested suspects in 12 of those 16 shootings, he added, most of whom were involved in gangs.

"That just shows you that there is a small population of the community that is really committing these violent acts," DiPaolo said.

Many of the gang members are coming in from outside the neighborhood, possibly to settle beefs, he said.

The most recent shooting at Knickerbocker Avenue and Grattan Street, in which a 13-year-old girl was injured, marked one of the few incidents that was not not gang-motivated, though the person of interest in the case is affiliated with a gang, DiPaolo said.

"Sometimes you have random acts of violence," he said. "This is a trendy neighborhood. Sometimes things take place here."

Other incidents included a 24-year-old man who was shot by a member of the Latin Kings gang at the Williamsburg Houses in July, as well as the shooting of two students outside the Grand Street High School campus.

Of the incidents with no arrests, police believe one of the victims shot himself, while two more shootings had uncooperative victims, DiPaolo said.

In light of the increase in gang activity, investigators have been looking to arrest individuals beyond the suspected gunmen, DiPaolo said.

Police arrested close to 50 people this year who have connections to gangs involved in neighborhood shootings, he said.

"We've been able to knock out three organizational structures that are out there perpetrating violent acts," he said.

But the problem is not limited to Williamsburg alone. 

More than half of all shootings in Brooklyn this year have been gang-related, with young people joining new crews for protection while doing time at Rikers Island, leading to a rise in violent youth crews, police have said.

The 90th Precinct is home to gangs with names like Boss City, Bomb Gang, Young Stackers and Cash Money Brothers, largely concentrated in the Bushwick Houses and Borinquen Plaza.

Dozens of other youth crews exist just over the neighborhood's borders, largely in Bedford-Stuyvesant, according to the NYPD.

DiPaolo said he expects the problems with gangs and shootings in Williamsburg to slow down after successful arrests in the neighborhood this year.

"I'm looking forward to the end of 2015 and 2016, kind of turning the corner with this," he said.