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Mount Vernon shootings lead to crackdown on parties

Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Carl Bell, center, flanked

Mount Vernon Police Commissioner Carl Bell, center, flanked by Chief John Roland, left, and Mayor Ernie Davis, right speaks during a news conference held at City Hall in Mount Vernon after the second shooting of the week occurred in front of a store on the corner of West First Street and South 15th Avenue in Mount Vernon. (Aug. 31, 2012) Photo Credit: Elizabeth Daza

In the wake of two shootings this week that left one man dead and four injured, Mount Vernon police are stepping up patrols and cracking down on private parties, officials said.

"We're getting shootings and we're getting warnings about shootings at parties and events that are happening in Mount Vernon," Police Commissioner Carl Bell said Friday.

The most recent: The fatal shooting of a 48-year-old Bronx man outside a bar early Friday morning, Mount Vernon's seventh homicide of 2012. The city of 67,000 that borders the Bronx has racked up 22 shootings with 19 victims so far this year. On Friday, Mayor Ernie Davis expressed frustration with what he called a lack of cooperation from witnesses.

"There's an African saying that it takes a village to raise a child," Davis told News12. "But if the village is sick and don't comply with what we need, this will continue."

In the shooting just after 3:30 a.m. Friday, gunfire erupted in front of Mums Lounge at West First Street and South 15th Avenue, police said.

The victim who was killed was shot in the head and declared dead on arrival at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, Bell said at a news conference in Mount Vernon City Hall. The surviving victim, a 43-year-old man, was grazed in the arm and was treated and released from Montefiore. No arrests have been made in the shootings.

Officials have not yet released the victims' names, but said both men were Bronx residents and patrons at the bar. Police are not sure if the men were targeted or if they knew each other.

"They were both standing out in front," Bell said. "One victim, the deceased, came outside to smoke a cigarette, and within minutes, shots rang out, so we have no idea if he was the intended victim. The other one who was grazed in the arm, wasn't even looking.

"It happened so fast. Some say (the gunman) was across the street walking. Maybe he drove by," Bell said. "Right now, we haven't been able to confirm either one."

Bullet holes were visible Friday at the Moonlight Juice Bar, next to the lounge.

Bell said no motive is yet known for the shooting, which happened two blocks from the Bronx border. Bell said about 15 patrons were inside Mums at the time and that there was no reported dispute before the shooting. Authorities added that a typically older crowd frequents the bar, and that it's not a usual trouble spot.

Police did not have a description of the shooter or know in which direction he fled, Bell said. The shooter's gun was a .45 caliber, the same as in a shooting Wednesday, but there is no reason to believe the two are connected, Bell said.

On Wednesday, four people were wounded outside the Garden Bar and Grill on South Fifth Avenue, police said. Three of the victims were bystanders and authorities are still searching for the gunman or gunmen.

A 28-year-old Mount Vernon man -- believed to have been the intended target -- suffered a gunshot wound that severed an artery in his upper leg and remained hospitalized, police said.

The three bystanders who were wounded in Wednesday's shooting are all from the Bronx, police said. One, a 17-year-old girl, was shot in the right calf and left thigh. Two men were grazed by bullets, a 32-year-old across his thigh and a 38-year-old on the arm, officials said. The shooting took place during a birthday party, authorities said.

Bell said in addition to stepping up patrols, the city plans to take a closer look at house parties which he cited as a breeding ground for violence.

"It seems that promoters from different areas are renting Mount Vernon properties, including private homes, and we'll have the violence at these type of parties -- people decide to settle their disputes and try to track down their victims at these events," he said.

"Earlier in the year we were stopping house parties up to 600 attendees."

Separately, police conducted a raid Friday morning at a home at 254 S. 10th Ave. and recovered guns and the illegal drug PCP, officials said. Six people, ranging in age from 15 to 36, were arrested.

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