Safety concerns have been raised for the students who travel through Westchester Square after a violent stabbing occurred last week leading to a serious injury and one arrest.
According to police reports on Wednesday, November 4, at approximately 3 p.m. a fight began on the southwest corner of Westchester Avenue and Ferris Place.
During the altercation the suspect stabbed a 16-year-old white male several times in the torso. A police officer witnessed the stabbing and pursued the suspect as he was attempting to flee the scene.
Neftaly Mercedes, an 18-year-old black male from St. Raymond Avenue, was apprehended on the corner of Overing and Westchester avenues. Mercedes is charged with assault, criminal possession of a weapon, menacing, harassment and resisting arrest.
The cause of the dispute remains under investigation.
The victim was rushed to a hospital and was listed in stable condition. According to the criminal complaint report, the victim had as many as six lacerations to the left and front side of his chest, which required surgery and treatment.
Mercedes plead not guilty to the charges on Thursday, November 5 and was to appear in court again this week. Bail was set at the amount of $2,500.
Though the two students were not from Lehman High School, the community is concerned that more safety enforcement is needed beyond the safety corridor, a three block span between the school and the Westchester Square train station with law enforcement patrol.
“Over the course of the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in touch with the 45th Precinct and with Lehman’s principal indicating that I’ve seen truancy issues that go beyond students out for lunch,” said Councilman Jimmy Vacca. “I’ve identified specific locations where I feel kids are playing hooky and must be taken off the street. One of those locations was the vicinity where this latest incident took place.”
Prior to the incident, a meeting was called on Tuesday, October 20, at Lehman High School between administrators of Lehman High School and P 12, Community Board 10, School Safety officers, and the Association of Merchants and Business Professionals of Westchester Square to discuss recent safety concerns.
“We established a safety corridor and a protocol where students and merchants treat each other with dignity, and merchants even agreed to come through with internships,” said Ken Kearns, district manager of CB10. “We are going to continue trying to build on what we have done and make it better.”
Joe Regina, secretary of the Westchester Square merchants, hopes to call another meeting with representatives of the 45th Precinct to discuss an increase of enforcement during the hours students flood Westchester Square.
“We wanted to bring to everyone’s attention incidents that have been occurring and discuss strategies for deterring such activity,” Regina said of the October meeting. “Unfortunately, we ended up with one of the worst case scenarios which we were trying to avoid.”