By Todd Maisel
Reverend Oswald Denis of St. Athanasius Church on Southern Boulevard in the South Bronx knelt down and briefly prayed Monday night, a large wooden cross hanging from his neck, at the vigil illuminated with yellow and white candles splayed out in front of an apartment building on East 157th Street.
He had come there not for the memorial that had been set for Priscilla Vasquez, 25, murdered on Sept. 12, but rather for three more young men shot on Nov. 9 — victims of Trinitarios gang wars according to police officials — in one of many gang battles raging on city streets this night and for the past year.
“When is it going to stop?” Denis shouted towards the hazy dark sky, occasionally lit by red and blue lights flaring from nearby patrol cars at the most recent shooting on that street.
On Nov. 9 at 5:55 p.m., three young men were shot by young men in a speeding black sedan in front of 432 East 157th St., a street that neighbors say is no stranger to gun violence.
In this instance, a 25-year-old man was shot twice in the torso, a 21-year-old hit in the leg, and a 20-year-old struck in the hip. All were rushed to Lincoln Hospital, where the oldest victim was said to be hanging on to life.
Police searched the area, marking the site with orange cones where spent shells were found, and flipping through trash bags for clues as to who fired the shots.
It was just one incident overnight in which a total of eight people were shot citywide.
“I got a call, I have parishioners here, so I’m just doing my thing – I just keep praying because it just keeps going on and on and on,” Denis sighed as he gazed down the street at another memorial to a young man at the opposite corner, who was also shot dead.
Police officials told the reverend that Monday night’s shooting appeared to be the work of the Trinitarios, a Dominican gang associated with drug dealing and shootings throughout the Bronx. The same gang was responsible for the 2018 machete murder of killed 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz on June 20, 2018, believing he was someone else. Five members of that gang hacked Feliz to death inside a bodega near this shooting location.
“We are sick and tired, we’re fed up. We need to get these guns off the streets. Our children are at risk and our children are dying,” Denis said. “We are killing our own people. Put the guns down, in God’s name.
He said gang members want “acceptance” and “they are looking for love.”
“They want someone to say ‘hey, I got your back’, but they don’t really have your back,” Denis said. “Its deceiving and conniving and the best solution is divine intervention. I tell them to put the guns down, stop the rivalry and repent your sins. It’s also a little bit of pot, weed, and then because of it there is big chaos. I’m not saying this particular case was the issue, but most of the time, that is what happens, it’s over nothing.”
Nearby, two young men emerged from a building at the scene of the Bronx triple shooting. One man grinned but then, flashed a scowl in anger saying, “what are you doing here anyway?”
“These kids just don’t get it,” said a woman standing nearby at that moment. “All they know are their gangs and they just want to settle their business without anyone in the way.”
Bloodshed in Brooklyn
The bloodshed included a deadly shooting in Brooklyn on Tuesday morning at 5:43 a.m., when police from the 73rd Precinct were holding a 49-year-old man in the shooting death of a 45-year-old woman in front of 364 Chester St. in Brownsville Brooklyn.
Investigators say the woman, who’s name is being withheld pending family notification, was shot twice in the torso and once in the leg.
She was rushed to Brookdale Hospital where she could not be saved. The motive in the shooting is unclear, though it appears to be a domestic incident.
More bullets fly
Other shootings citywide are apparently linked to gang warfare, detectives reported.
At 5 p.m. on Nov. 9, a 26-year-old man was shot once in the leg by a male in his 20’s inside a bodega at 411 Beach 30th Street in Far Rockaway. Officers from the 101st Precinct found the victim on the ground inside the deli and EMS rushed him to Jamaica Hospital, where he is expected to survive.
The suspect is described only as a Black man in his 20s, wearing all blue clothing, possibly a sign of being part of the Crips gang.
At 6:30 p.m., an 18-year-old woman was shot in the shoulder and grazed in the back as she stood with other teens at Newport Street and Strauss Street in Brownsville, Brooklyn. She was taken to Brookdale Hospital where she was in stable condition.
Investigators from the 73rd Precinct were told that men in an unknown vehicle sprayed the group with bullets before fleeing. Several vehicles were also heavily damaged in the shooting.
At 8:15 p.m., a 15-year-old boy was grazed in the leg by a stray bullet fired between warring groups at 1556 Sterling Place in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He was treated at a local hospital for his wound. No other description was available.
Finally, a 12:24 a.m. on Nov. 10, a 29-year-old man walked into Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx with a gunshot wound to the buttocks. The victim told police from the 43rd Precinct and PSA8 that he was shot on the basketball court at 1715 Bruckner Blvd. inside the Justice Sotomayor Houses.
Police say the victim heard the shots and felt pain and never saw the assailants, also believed to be gang members.
Shots fired suspect
The NYPD is asking the public’s to identify a man in surveillance photos who is wanted for questioning in connection with firing shots that occurred on Oct. 21 in the Bronx.
Police from the 42nd Precinct say that at 3:25 a.m., a man fired shots in front of 1264 Franklin Avenue, in Morrisania, the Bronx.
Surveillance photos of the individual from the vicinity of the incident location are attached and available at DCPI.
Anyone with information in regard to the identity of the individual or information on any of the shootings is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 888-57-PISTA (74782). You can also submit tips online at nypdcrimestoppers.com, or on Twitter @NYPDTips.