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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Huntington Station: Community needs answers in four killings

Program with a photo of Maggie Rosales at

Program with a photo of Maggie Rosales at her funeral in Huntington Station on Friday, October 17, 2014.

Maggie Rosales, all of 18 years old, was found dead on the street in Huntington Station on Sunday. She was the fourth hamlet resident to meet a violent death over the past year and two weeks.

Yet, residents complain they are hearing virtually nothing from Huntington Town officials; nothing from Suffolk and nothing from the county police.

Rosales died less than a mile from where County Executive Steve Bellone, and later Suffolk's police chief of department, James Burke, held news conferences promising to end an earlier spate of violence. With attention from the town and county, along with a visibly increased county police presence, the Station found relief, for a while.

But last October, the body of Sarah Strobel, 23, was found dumped in the Froehlich Farm Nature Preserve. In June, Luis Ramos-Rodriguez, 38, died of stab wounds he received behind a local restaurant on New York Avenue. In July, Daniel Carbajal, 25, died of a gunshot wound to the head after an assailant fired on a group standing outside a house on East Ninth Street.

And on Sunday, the body of Rosales, a student at Walt Whitman High School, was found face down, on Lynch Street, near Depot Road. She had been stabbed, according to police.

Why so many violent deaths? Are the killings unrelated? Is there some pattern? Is, as some residents fear, the community seeing a resurgence of the kind of gang-related activity that years ago required a joint federal, state and county response to clean up?

And how is the Station's ongoing revitalization effort going to work if residents, like those who attend the local Church of Latter Day Saints -- as Rosales and her mother did -- fear venturing into a place of worship after dark?

"We had quiet for a couple of years and now this," Frank Petrone, Huntington's town supervisor, said Friday. "We are trying to assess, trying to get our arms around what is going on."

In a joint statement Friday night, Bellone and Police Commissioner Edward Webber said in part, "The Suffolk County Police Department is actively investigating the recent crimes that have occurred in the Huntington Station area. Additional law enforcement personnel, both marked and unmarked units, have been assigned to Huntington Station as part of a proactive overall strategy to reduce crime and address public concerns."

Bellone has scheduled a meeting of town, police and school officials for Monday afternoon in his office -- one day before a group of Huntington Station residents plan to march on town hall.

But really, the last thing Huntington Station needs is more meetings. Residents no doubt are feeling a sense of been-there, done-that on that score.

What residents want is information. What is happening in the Strobel case? And what of Ramos-Rodriguez, Carbajal and Rosales? How are police handling violent crime in Huntington Station? Are more patrols needed? Is now the time to add a police substation?

So many questions, and no answers. That's unacceptable.

On Friday, community members gathered for Rosales' services, which included a heart-wrenching violin rendering of Brahm's Lullaby.

"Thank you for keeping my secrets . . ." a young woman, fighting to speak through tears first in Spanish and then in English, said as she looked toward the open coffin.

She was one of many who directed thanks, thoughts and promises to Rosales during the standing-room-only Church of Latter Day Saints meeting at A.L. Jacobsen Funeral Home.

"According to our beliefs," Bishop Sean Cannon would say later, "Maggie was there and Maggie was listening."

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