NYPD commanders in southeast Queens are adding extra cops and beefing up police presence near schools after the recent shootings of two teenage bystanders, including one that killed a 14-year-old boy.
Two rival teen gangs were involved in both shootings, which investigators believe may be connected to other incidents in a pattern of violence that has roiled the area of the 113th Precinct, said NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea in a briefing with reporters Wednesday.
Some of the suspected gang members have been involved in robberies and have been arrested before, Shea said.
Both shootings took place at a time when the NYPD has attempted to quell a nettlesome spike in gunplay in parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
The first shooting occurred Saturday, when 14-year-old Aamir Griffin was shot and killed on a basketball court at the Baisley Park Houses in Jamaica, police said. Responding officers found the teenager with a gunshot wound to the neck and he was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital, police said.
On Monday, a 16-year-old girl was shot in the left shoulder shortly before 4 p.m. in front of New Dawn Charter High School near 89th Avenue and 161st Street, also in Jamaica, police said. Her injuries were not life-threatening.
Police said no one has been arrested in either shooting and the investigation is ongoing.
Gunfights like the ones that ended with the innocent bystanders hit can break out for no reason, Shea said.
“Sometimes it starts over absolutely nothing,” he said. “Sometimes they forget what they are fighting about.”
The culprits in both shootings are believed to be around 15 to 16 years of age.
"We believe the shooters are two groups of kids fighting, Shea said, "and in those two incidents, the intended targets were not struck.”
NYPD Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison said he took the latest shootings personally because he grew up in the neighborhood.
“It is something that is a tragedy but I am very confident that the 113 [Precinct] detective squad will bring justice,” Harrison said.
Cops will be deployed at the precinct-area schools during arrival and dismissal times to create a law enforcement presence, Harrison said.
The latest police statistics show that the southeast area of Queens has experienced a slight decrease in shootings, although the 113th Precinct is up nearly 70%, to 22 shootings, from 13 in the same period a year ago.
The Queens North police commands as well as the Brooklyn North commands have seen an increase in shootings. Queens North has experienced a spike of 58.3% while Brooklyn North is up 5%.
Shootings are up in the city by about 4.9% over last year, NYPD data show.
“We have upticks all over the city,” Chief of Department Terence Monahan said of the shooting trends. “If you go into Queens, they have had an uptick tied directly to what is going on in the 103 and 113 [Precincts] … we have had upticks in the Bronx, we have upticks in Brooklyn, now the uptick is right here.”
With Antonio Planas and AP