Parents of Brentwood students as young as age seven said Wednesday night they fear for their children when they see them off to school, wondering each day whether they’ll return home safely.
Herbie Medina, 33, a HVAC technician from Brentwood and father to a 10-year-old girl in Frank J. Cannon Southeast Elementary School, was joined by other parents and members of their newly formed Uplift Brentwood group at a community forum called “Critical Conversations: The State of the Central Islip and Brentwood Communities.”
“Everybody is scared, everyone is petrified,” Medina said of Brentwood residents, parents and students prior to the meeting organized by local community activists Marcos Maldonado, Renee Ortiz and Kaliah D. Greene. “There’s rumors flying around every day and you never know what to believe. You don’t know if you’re going to send your kid to school and that’ll be the last time you’re going to see them.”
Emotions ran high at the start 7 p.m. meeting at Teatro Yerbabruja on Carleton Avenue, which comes in the wake of four slayings of Brentwood teenagers who were found beaten to death — crimes that police believe are gang-related. Some of the relatives of those lost to the recent violence wept in the standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 people.
Residents, including those from Brentwood, Central Islip and Bay Shore, cheered when one woman urged Suffolk County police and Islip Town officials to enforce the “broken windows” law enforcement philosophy in their neighborhood, focusing on quality of life crimes.
Others said they were concerned about intimidation tactics used by local gang members even when they want to report simple nuisances.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said residents can call (631) 852-NARC, a line sponsored by the police department, where anonymous complaints can be made.The forum came two weeks after two Brentwood teenagers — Nisa Mickens, 15, and her best friend, Kayla Cuevas, 16 — were found beaten to death.
Days after the double-slaying, skeletal remains of two other Brentwood teenagers, Oscar Acosta, 19, and Miguel García Morán, 15, both of whom had been reported missing earlier this year, were found buried on the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center grounds.
Earlier this month, David Arzu, 29, of Bay Shore, and Janelle Curella, 28, of Manorville were shot to death on Center Avenue in Bay Shore near the Long Island Rail Road station.
No one has been charged in connection to any of the deaths as of late Wednesday.
Sini, Brentwood schools superintendent Levi McIntyre, Islip Town Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, and representatives from other local offices were in attendance at the community meeting.
Miguel Turell, 35, of Central Islip, who works for the MTA in Brooklyn, has a 7-year-old daughter who attends Southwest Elementary School in Brentwood. He said parental involvement and communication from schools to parents needs improvement.
“There are a lot of Hispanic parents that don’t speak English,” Turell said. “There’s a language barrier between kids and school and parents. These parents are sending their kids to these schools, not knowing what’s going on.”
Medina and Turell said they are looking to team up with other grassroots community groups to create a stronger, cohesive effort to tackle crime and other issues.
“We’re all working hard toward the same goal, but we’re all doing it separately,” said Turell. “We could be so much better together.”