HARLEM — A group of teenagers have been terrorizing seniors at the Jackie Robinson Houses by violently kicking at their doors, riding bicycles in the hallways and blocking the building’s entrance, tenants claim.
The harassment started October 2014 when a group of about a dozen teens — who look to be between 11 and 14 years old — began pounding on the NYCHA development’s metal doors, residents said.
“I thought somebody was going to knock down the door,” said Julia Martinez, 65. “I grabbed a knife.”
More than half a dozen tenants of 111 E. 128th St. said they’ve also experienced the harassment but most are too afraid of retaliation to speak out publicly. Some of them have grandchildren that they don’t want to put at risk or senior parents with heart conditions.
"I don't want them going after my family," said another tenant who described the pounding as sounding, "like gunshots."
The problem has gotten so bad that people delivering food into the building refuse to go inside when the teens are standing in the lobby, the tenant added.
A group of concerned residents complained about the issue to NYCHA and the local PSA over the summer, but Martinez believes that because the teens are minors and nobody has been physically harmed, the issue hasn't been a priority.
When both city agencies failed to do anything about it in the summer, one of the residents set up a hidden camera by the door.
Several videos show the teens casually walking about the hallway, eating takeout, littering on the floor, riding their bicycles and play-fighting near the elevator.
When the knocking began, a group of about eight would run away as soon as the door was knocked. Recently, they stand in front of the apartment showing no fear of consequences, residents said.
When DNAinfo shared the video with the NYPD Tuesday, a spokeswoman said, "The Commanding Officer of PSA 5 has been made aware of the issue and will be investigating.”
NYCHA was able to identify one of the boys in the video and the building's property manager called his mother to address his behavior.
“NYCHA takes the safety of our residents seriously, and we are working with the NYPD on this,” a spokeswoman said.
Tenants fear that if the issue continues to be ignored, the kids will get bolder.
“They get ballsy,” one tenant said. “They start thinking, ‘If I can get away with this what else can I do.’”
Martinez recognized a few of the children from the video but said most don’t live there.
“It’s like they [the teens] don’t care,” she said.