Police watch gang activity on Roosevelt Avenue

Police watch gang activity on Roosevelt Avenue
Chief Robert Boyce of the NYPD gangs unit speaks to Jackson Heights residents about gang issues at a forum last week. Gang arrests are up in the neighborhood. Photo by Jeremy Walsh
By Jeremy Walsh

More NYPD surveillance cameras may be on the way to Roosevelt Avenue if federal grant money emerges this year, City Councilman Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst) told a public forum on gangs last week.

“He is committed to putting more cameras on Roosevelt,” Monserrate said of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, with whom he met recently.

The subject of cameras, four of which monitor Roosevelt Avenue, arose when five people were shot last month in a gang-related midday attack. A camera recorded images of one of the suspects and the escape vehicle, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Queens district attorney's office.

Police arrested two men in the incident. A third is still at large, they said.

“These shootings were in broad daylight,” said Chief Robert Boyce, the NYPD's gangs unit head June 25. “We share your outrage.”

The shooter in the Roosevelt Avenue incident and the attacker in another incident in a nail salon two weeks earlier were both members of Surenos 13, a southern California-based gang, he said. The targets in both cases were members of M-18, another Los Angeles-based gang, he said.

Boyce said one of the city's six gang squads is dedicated to Queens. Some 35 officers are deployed for “street suppression,” which involves observing gang members and breaking up groups of them when they congregate on corners, he said.

Capt. Richard Dee, the Queens gang squad commander, said that last year they arrested 250 gang members. So far this year, he said, they have arrested 185.

Most Sureno members look similar, Dee said, with shaved heads and blue clothing, often Los Angeles Dodgers gear. The number 13 is an iconic symbol for the gang, he said, and often they will wear jerseys or have tattoos bearing the number.

Jackson Heights resident Ed Wesley said the number of tattoo parlors in the neighborhood has spiked in recent years and suggested police monitor them.

“We talk to them,” Boyce said, but he noted that many gang tattoos are homemade.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at [email protected] or by e-mail at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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