Two people were shot, one fatally, inside a Central Islip deli Monday morning in what police believe was a gang-related shooting just across the street from Brentwood, a hamlet devastated by at least six recent gang killings, Suffolk County police said.
Suffolk Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer, commanding officer of the department’s homicide squad, said police received a 911 call at 10:33 a.m. reporting a shooting inside the El Campesino Deli & Grocery at 133 Caleb’s Path.
Third Precinct officers responded and found two shooting victims: a man, Esteban Alvarado-Bonilla, who police believe was targeted, shot multiple times; and a woman who was working in the deli and believed to be struck once accidentally.
Police said Alvarado-Bonilla, 29, of Brentwood, was in the deli when he was shot at about 10:30 a.m. He was taken to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore where he was pronounced dead. The female employee, who was not identified, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
“At this point, we do believe the shooting victim was targeted, we believe the male was the intended target,” Beyrer said.
Beyrer declined to say why police believe the shooting is gang-related and whether the male victim, whose name was being withheld pending family notification, was a gang member.
Following the shooting, Suffolk police detectives for hours swarmed the tiny plaza at the intersection of Caleb’s Path and Vanderbilt Avenue, where the deli and laundry are located. The Brentwood border is on the western side of Caleb’s Path, across from the plaza.
Officers from the Emergency Service Section were seen opening two sewer covers in the parking lot outside the deli and laundry and hoisting a net down, possibly searching for a discarded gun or other evidence.
Access to the deli was blocked with police tape and no one answered the phone.
Nelson Perira, who lives directly behind the plaza, said he didn’t hear any shots or see anything, but only saw the police presence when he went outside to smoke a cigarette.
“This neighborhood, honestly, you can ask anyone you want, they’re not gonna say they saw anything, even if they did,” said Perira, 52. “They’re scared. Everyone knows these neighborhoods — CI, Brentwood — they’re full of gang members.”
Monday’s killing was the second homicide in Suffolk County this year. Last year, the county clocked 34 killings, thirteen of which were linked to gang activity.
On Jan. 13, Brentwood resident Florentino Hernandez-Zavala, 25, was fatally shot in the head in front of his home. Police Monday would not say whether they believe his slaying is gang-related.
Authorities last year launched a major gang crackdown in Brentwood, following the gang-related killings of two teenagers. There were six gang-related killings in Brentwood last year, including those of five teenagers, believed to be committed by MS-13 gang members.
Police have not announced arrests in any of the killings, but have arrested at least 80 gang members on state charges and have seven individuals in federal custody. They have declined to name any of the people arrested, citing the ongoing probe.
Kenneth Evans, 54, who lives near the site of Monday’s killing, stood outside in the cold to survey the scene. His son, Kenneth Evans, Jr., 24, was shot and killed in Brentwood on Nov. 28, 2015.
“The detectives, they all found out that it was gang-related,” Evans said. “I talk to the detectives every two, three weeks, and they’re still trying to find the guy.”
He said despite the violence, he’s been in Brentwood for 32 years and isn’t moving.
“I don’t really worry about it, but I’m tired of it,” Evans said. “It’s painful. I’m tired of it.”