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Wyandanch residents say triple slaying is latest example of community violence

People gather on Davidson Avenue in Wyandanch on

People gather on Davidson Avenue in Wyandanch on Thursday, June 4, 2015, where a triple homicide occurred the night before. Credit: Ed Betz

Henry James, watching TV in the basement of his Wyandanch home, heard the cacophony of gunshots shortly before midnight and didn't flinch.

Like other crime-weary residents of the Carver Park neighborhood, he'd heard it many times before.

"That's nothing unusual for this area. This is like the Wild West," said James, 50, who lives down the street from the scene of the latest bloodshed: three people gunned down and another wounded late Wednesday.

In the aftermath of the triple slaying on Davidson Street, residents appeared more frustrated than shocked.

Many said Thursday they've grown tired of the violence, gangs and drugs plaguing their community.

"It's like every week you hear gunshots going on, you see [police] helicopters flying over," said Virginia Dawson-Taylor, president of the hamlet's Neighborhood Watch.

One neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said Davidson Street is a known destination for people looking for illicit drugs. "You see kids all the time, parking their cars. Other people get in, then get out fast -- you know it's drugs," he said. "The cops know it, too."

On Monday nights, Dawson-Taylor's group of about a dozen residents patrol the community. She said residents have asked Suffolk police to increase patrols in the community, but that hasn't happened.

"We have people in this neighborhood that are afraid to go out of their house after dark," said Dawson-Taylor, 67, whose family settled in the area in the 1930s.

One resident said she fears for the safety of her children and is thinking of moving.

"People just kill each other over nothing -- over drugs, over jealousy, over someone messing with someone," she said. "It's gotta stop."

Antoine Poole, 24, said he was stunned by the killings, because while the neighborhood is home to many low-income people, "it's not violent."

"Things happen, but it's not every day," he said.

Suffolk police would not comment on the request for additional patrols and did not immediately provide recent crime statistics.

In 2012, there was only one homicide in Wyandanch, with a population of about 11,600, but there were 94 violent crimes, including 56 aggravated assaults and 37 robberies, records show. In 2008-2009, the violent crime rate was higher.

Babylon Town is pinning revitalization hopes on its ambitious Wyandanch Rising redevelopment that's been more than a decade in the making.

In March, residents began moving into one of two new apartment buildings built about a mile from the shooting scene. The development, near a Long Island Rail Road station, will feature restaurants and an ice-skating rink.

Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer said the $500 million project aims to reverse decades of economic distress and will take time to have an impact.

"One incident like this is not going to derail us or the community," he said of the shooting.

Dawson-Taylor grew up in Carver Park and remembers when crime rates were so low "we never used keys in the homes." Now she patrols streets in hopes of making them safe again.

"I grew up here," she said. "I love the community."

With Sarah Armaghan,

Denise M. Bonilla

and Ellen Yan


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