Feb. 7, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
Councilmember Francisco Moya is holding a town hall meeting in Corona next week to discuss what is being done to combat gang violence in the wake of Sunday’s 90th Street/ Elmhurst Ave shooting.
The NYPD will be sending officers from the 115th and 110th Precincts to let the public know what gang activity has been taking place in the area and what they are doing to stop it. Residents will be able to ask the police questions or state their concerns.
The meeting, which will take place on Feb. 15 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St. Leo Catholic Academy school at 104-19 49th Ave., comes days after a 20-year-old man was shot dead on the 7-train platform by a reputed MS-13 member in an apparent gang dispute.
The incident was caught on video and went viral in a matter of hours, causing alarm throughout the city. The alleged perpetrator, Ramiro Gutierrez, 26, is reportedly an undocumented immigrant and President Donald Trump used the incident in his State of the Union speech as a means to promote the need for a border wall.
The subway shooting also came around the same time that graffiti that read “MS-13” was scribbled on Moya’s office building. The council member believes the incident is unrelated to the shooting despite the apparent gang affiliation.
“Regarding the MS-13 graffiti scrawled on my office: There is no evidence that this was connected to the shooting, that my office was specifically targeted, nor even that an MS-13 gang member is actually responsible,” Moya wrote in a post on Facebook. “The graffiti has been painted over, as it has in several other locations around our community over the past year.”
The council member also took to Facebook to notify residents that police have stepped up their presence in the area as they attempt to stamp out gang activity.
Moya also said that the incident should not be used as a propaganda tool to promote Trump’s border wall.
“In order to root out gang activity, we need community members to be partners, not targets. Now is a time to come together, not to be driven apart by walls and deportation forces,” Moya said.
There have been a number of incidents in Queens involving MS-13 and other major gangs in recent months, such as an MS-13 shooting in the Rockaways, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea.
Shea also spoke of some activity within the area, noting that there is “a group of smaller gangs or cliques…particularly on some of the Roosevelt Avenue corridors in the 110, and 115th Precinct.”
Shea said that gang-related crime is not new to the area and that the graphic video footage–spread by social media– has created greater alarm than in the past. He insisted that crime remains low and that the public should put the incident in perspective.
“Crime is at the lowest levels we’ve ever had in New York City,” he said. “Incidents like these have happened before. It’s just that they’re captured now. Everyone’s walking around with a smartphone and within minutes of those crimes occurring, they’re going viral.”