Police cuff two in Pel Pkwy murder

Local community leaders and residents joined forces at a Tuesday, October 27 Stand Up to Violence Community Shooting Response Rally at 955 Waring Avenue where Kimberly Velasquez was killed in a Thursday, October 22 shooting.
Photo courtesy of Erika Mendelsohn

Two men involved in the shooting death of a young woman near Pelham Parkway Houses have been arrested and charged by police.

According to a NYPD spokesman, 49th Precinct police responded to a 911 on Thursday, October 22 at 3:10 p.m. of a 20-year old woman shot at 955 Waring Avenue.

Upon arrival, officers observed an unconscious and unresponsive Kimberly Velasquez with a gunshot wound to her torso.

EMS responded to the scene and transported Velasquez, a 2734 Claflin Avenue resident, to Jacobi Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

This past Saturday, October 24, police arrested Justin Mateo, 18, of 2324 Davidson Avenue, and Justin Campkin, 20, of 2323 Walton Avenue, in connection with Velasquez’s murder.

Both have been charged with murder in the second degree, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon.

The NYPD spokesman added the investigation into this homicide is still ongoing and Velasquez, who was not the intended target, knew the suspects involved.

Councilman James Vacca confirmed these arrests were made over the weekend and said he was told by police the interior and exterior cameras which he had installed at Pelham Parkway Houses helped law enforcement in identifying these perpetrators.

“I’m heartened to know that these cameras played a role in helping police make these arrests in this terrible crime and since they have been installed, there’s been a noticeable decrease in crime at the Pelham Parkway Houses,” explained Councilman Vacca, adding. “None of the individuals caught actually lived in Pelham Parkway Houses and instead had made a plan to meet there to carry out this crime.”

News of the 955 Waring Avenue shooting homicide was shared with local community leaders and residents during last Thursday’s Community Board 11 full board meeting at Calvary Hospital.

“These gun violence situations are getting worse because there are too many guns out on the streets and ‘stop and frisk’ should be reinstated,” shared Edith Blitzer, Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association president and Pelham Parkway resident for 42 years. “I was devastated when I heard about this because she was shot in error and it’s a young person’s life taken for absolutely nothing. The captain of the 49th Precinct is doing an excellent job, but we need more foot patrol officers here in the neighborhood and for them to interact with our youth from an early age to teach them they can trust the police.”

“We’re getting way too many shootings and too many innocent people are dying. This young woman was the end result of a system that has not only failed, but was never put into place,” said Joseph Thompson, 49th Precinct Community Council president. “We need to do more to implement structured programs, activities and religion within housing developments to reach people at an early age and prevent them from going down the wrong path.”

On the evening of Tuesday, October 27, Stand Up to Violence, a Jacobi Medical Center Violence Interruption Program funded by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, conducted a community shooting response rally at Colden and Waring avenues in which over 50 participants come out in acknowledgement of last Thursday’s homicide.

“It’s really nice to see the community comes together to show their strength and loyalty to each other during difficult times such as these,” said Erika Mendelsohn, SUV program director. “The community as a whole is ready to see a positive change in their neighborhood and they will continue supporting each other until there is no more gun violence.”

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