48° Good Afternoon
48° Good Afternoon

Brutal deaths of two teens are a call for action

Nisa Mickens, in a photo provided by her

Nisa Mickens, in a photo provided by her mother. The teen's body was found on Stahley Street in Brentwood Tuesday night, Sept. 13, 2016 and Suffolk County police said the death was criminal. Also Suffolk County Police Department photo from police facebook page of Kayla Cuevas. Credit: Family & SCPD

It’s shocking that two teenage girls were beaten to death in Brentwood, but being shocked is not enough. Not any more.

The body of Nisa Mickens was discovered by a passing motorist in a Brentwood neighborhood Tuesday evening. She would have turned 16 Wednesday. The body of her friend, Kayla Cuevas, 16, was found in the same residential area Wednesday.

Police say Cuevas had a disagreement at Brentwood High School’s Ross Center with members of MS-13, an El Salvadoran street gang that’s strong in that community. The killings are likely related to gang rivalry, but no connection will ever make sense. Nisa Mickens and Kayla Cuevas should be alive to live out their dreams.

At times, it seems many of us are hardened to news of killings in communities challenged by poverty, violence and gangs. Disputes among violent young men over pride and money, and victims caught in crossfire, are all too common. For those living in safe neighborhoods, the danger can seem far away and beyond their ability to affect.

These girls suffered cuts, punctures and blunt force trauma. Were there no screams? Police officials say no 911 call was received about any disturbance in the area. Such brutality should be a call to action. The head of the local civic association said the community has been fighting gangs for 10 years. How much longer must it do so?

Gangs must be rooted out. That means zero tolerance from parents when their children form gang associations, from community members who stay quiet when crime occurs, from law enforcement that must direct resources to reduce such violence. Brentwood is terrified right now. Everyone should be.

Such savagery affects us all. — The editorial board


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.