Local elected officials attended an open meeting in Bushwick today, at the site of a shooting in broad daylight on Saturday that left five people hospitalized. Residents, most of them Hispanic, gathered on the sidewalk at Menahan Street and Knickerbocker Ave, holding signs that demanded “Stop Gun Trafficking.”
The meeting was organized by Latino community organization Make the Road New York to promote a zero-tolerance policy for violence, especially via stricter gun laws. One of the residents in attendance, Carmen Gonzalez, was nearby on Menahan Street at the time of the shooting.
“We heard the shots, and so I called 911,” she said. “We should have tried to hold him but it happened too fast. He was gone and the gun was on the floor.” It’s believed that alleged shooter Curtis Peterson targeted victim Rolando Pizarro as an act of revenge, after Pizarro filed a police report against Peterson for sexually harassing Pizarro’s daughter at the Knickerbocker Avenue McDonald’s, where she works.
Victor Rosario was among those who expressed outrage today that the shooting occurred less than a block from the 83rd Precinct building. The lifetime Bushwick resident and member of Make the Road complained about the precinct’s lack of engagement with the community, as well as the inability of most officers to speak Spanish.
“People sell guns right on this block,” he said. “Right in front of the police station. This happens because it’s just a job to [the police officers]. They get to work and go into their fortress, and then they leave.”
Jason Otaño, a candidate for the 53rd New York State Assembly District, said after the meeting dispersed that he helped organize it in order to draw attention to the community’s need for afterschool programs and other activities, which he hopes will curb violence in the next generation of Bushwick youth.
“This is a community call to action, to realize how underserved we are in terms of social programs,” he said. “When we do have a successful program, something like this threatens it. There were kids playing right nearby in the park on Saturday.”
Otaño doesn’t blame the police for the shooting, or for the fact that the alleged perpetrator is still at large, but he admitted that the location of the crime is hard to ignore.
“That this would happen within steps of the precinct building is extremely disturbing,” he said. “It makes you wonder what exactly police presence does to curtail violent crime.”
Several NYPD officials from the 83rd Precinct stood watching the crowd from the periphery, but all refused to either engage with the speakers or comment on the meeting.