Aaron Short reports: Last week’s shooting in Williamsburg’s Hasidic Quarter may be part of a larger trend of bloodshed and drug activity.
Three people have been struck by bullets in the Southside, according to the 90th Precinct, which stretches south of Broadway to Flushing Avenue, most recently the shocking shooting of a rabbi’s son, Burech Halberstam, on the corner of Driggs Avenue and S. Ninth Street early last Tuesday.
Community leader Isaac Abraham is convinced the shooting is part of a larger trend of drug trafficking that has swept through South Williamsburg this summer.
“The 90th Precinct has to get more resources and drug enforcement to crack all the drug dens,” said Abraham. “The entire neighborhood knows where, when and by who to get it.”
Three people have been wounded in shootings in South Williamsburg over the past five weeks, though residents say that there have been several more incidents in the neighborhood.
On July 23, an 86-year old woman was shot in her leg inside her apartment near Havemeyer and S. Ninth streets after a neighbor flashed a gun and fired it.
And on July 3, a thug fired multiple rounds from loaded firearm into a crowd near Wythe Place and Taylor Street, grazing one man in his left foot.
Fortunately, neither victim was seriously injured.
Markos Masri, a resident of a public housing complex, was almost hit by a stray bullet in front of his house.
“I was relaxing with my friends and we saw two youngsters passing by and they shot my neighbor,” said Masri. “We all ran away. We came out later and I called the cops.”
Abraham has witnessed the aftermath of other shootings, which include multiple shell casings on Division Avenue near Berry Street after two drivers shot at each other and alarmed residents.
“It’s a farce,” said Abraham. “There are more drugs being sold in the area than at Walgreens. What do you expect?”
At a press conference held last week, Rabbi David Niederman offered a $5,000 reward for any information that would lead to the apprehension of the suspects in Halberstam’s shooting. He called the suspects, two Latino men, “bad apples” and said that the reward would send a message to people “who try to viciously rob and kill people.”
But Halberstam’s family said that police were not adequately patrolling the neighborhood and said that there should have been more police in the area.
Police from the 90th Precinct, which comprises the Southside and Bushwick, could not be reached for comment, but NYPD statistics do not suggest that the area has gotten lawless.
So far this year, there has been one murder in the entire precinct, down from four by this point last year. Assaults are down, but robberies are up – though neither by statistically significant amounts.
And, historically, crime is a tiny fraction of what it was when Halberstam’s mother was raising her wounded son.
In 1990, there were 24 murders recorded in the precinct.