A brazen morning robbery at a popular diner has community leaders in Morris Park and an elected official raising concerns.
A man posing as a food inspector asked to see the basement at the Golden Eagle Restaurant at 745 Morris Park Avenue and when taken downstairs, displayed a firearm and demanded money from the manager, according to police.
The robbery took place at around 7:20 a.m. on Friday, July 15, a police spokesperson said.
After receiving the cash, the suspect fled, with some of the diner’s employees in pursuit The robber pistol-whipped one of his pursuers, police said.
“The suspect then let off a few rounds…thankfully not hitting anyone,” stated a police source, and then fled the scene.
The investigation is ongoing as of press time, and so far no arrests have been made.
The incident raised concerns among community leaders in Morris Park.
Morris Park Community Association president Anthony Singorile said that the MPCA would be monitoring the situation and said that the community needs security cameras.
“It is getting out of hand,” said Signorile after the robbery. “Cameras are a must.”
Singorile called on elected officials, to help address security concerns in Morris Park.
Overall though, Signorile said that police from the 49th Precinct are doing a good job, and chose to highlight their recent success in combating auto theft.
“Thank god for the 49th Precinct,” said Signorile. “They are doing a wonderful job looking into this.”
MPCA vice-president Al D’Angelo was concerned that the incident could have an adverse affect on Morris Park’s reputation and desirability.
D’Angleo said that he believes Morris Park is one of the safest areas in the city, but if people see changes for the worse in terms of crime and quality-of-life, middle class people with the means to do so may decide to leave.
The MPCA vice-president said that he believes the decline in stop, question and frisk is leading to more criminals carrying guns.
Councilman James Vacca echoed that sentiment, indicating that low police officer morale and an uptick in shootings in the city are troublesome.
“I would say police morale continues not to be good,” said the councilman. “I think many of the police perceive the statements by political figures to be not supportive, and generally, I think many police view this as a tough time for them.”
The councilman said that while overall crime in the city seems to be decreasing, violent crime in the borough appears to be increasing.
He cited a recent shooting in Parkchester where a man was shot at a playground while carrying a small child, and another in Zerega several weeks ago when a police officer was shot at, but not hit, as examples.
“I am concerned about the rise in gangs in the Bronx,” he added. “I don’t see it in my district, but it is happening and we are part of the Bronx.”
On the upside, Vacca pointed to funding for almost 1,300 new police officers in the new city budget that took affect on Wednesday, July 1, as a step in the right direction, and said he will be back next year asking for more.
“I consider (that allocation) a down-payment,” he said.