A 27-year old Bronx man was gunned down Wednesday, November 5 in the vicinity of Amethyst Street and Sagamore Avenue, near the Bronx Park East elevated train station.
Police from the 49th Precinct, responding to a call around 2 a.m., found Reinaldo Ortiz shot several times in the torso. Emergency Medical Services pronounced Ortiz dead on arrival.
“Crime is down in our precinct, but we’re getting these sporadic shootings,” Community Board 11 district manager John Fratta said. “So now we have to flood the area and let these people know we won’t tolerate it.”
According to the 49th Precinct, an investigation is ongoing. The shooting may or may not have been gang related.
“I’ve been told it’s not safe to walk down there,” said Van Nest Community Association vice president Zena Twyman, referring to Victor, Rhinelander and Amethyst west of White Plains Road. “We held a candlelight vigil a year ago – things haven’t improved.”
A shooting at the intersection of White Plains Road and Van Nest Avenue left a 25-year old man dead June 21. Two teenagers were shot and wounded July 26 on Holland Avenue off Morris Park Avenue. In August, community activists and elected officials booted Karma, a Morris Park club, from the neighborhood.
Two stabbings occurred outside MP Pub at 3 a.m. November 8. Fights have erupted near Morris Park Avenue’s Déjà vu nightspot as well.
Has Van Nest turned hyper-violent? Depends on whom you ask.
“It’s like every week they’ve been killing,” said a minimarket employee, on Morris Park Avenue between Amethyst and Victor streets. “I think it’s a gang thing. People say this is a nice neighborhood. Right now it’s infested.”
According to Arthur Hovey, a Van Nest Community Association member, young men congregate on Victor Street day and night.
“Drug activity on Victor Street,” Hovey said. “Behind the Fiorentino Residence. The seniors see it. They’re too scared to call 911.”
Hovey, who participates in a weekly civilian patrol with Twyman, believes the neighborhood’s absent landlords and new residents are to blame.
But no all Van Nesters are so concerned.
“I keep my door open past ten, eleven at night – no problem,” said Jae Lee, who’s operated a Morris Park Avenue dry cleaners for 13 years. “The crime isn’t bad.”
Emad Mohammad runs a Halal meat market blocks from the site of Van Nest’s election night murder.
“I didn’t hear about the shooting,” Mohammad said. “We’ve had some trouble in the past, but nothing recently.”
Ortiz’ was the 49th Precinct’s sixth 2008 homicide; on pace through November 11 last year. Precinct rapes, robberies and felony assaults are down from 2007. The 49th Precinct includes Van Nest, Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, Allerton, Eastchester Gardens and Pelham Gardens.
“There are always incidents,” a young woman smoking a cigarette near the intersection of Morris Park Avenue and White Plains Road said. “I grew up here, so the incidents don’t really scare me.”
Ortiz was shot near an Amethyst Street auto service center. At least one bullet struck a used car, which detectives hauled away to examine.
“Amethyest – that’s usually a quiet block,” Fratta said. “Sometimes we get calls about drug sales, gang action. This is a wakeup call.”
Twyman encouraged neighbors to join her association’s patrols.
“You can’t rely of ‘they’ to fix this,” she said. “You have to rely on ‘you.’”