By Ivan Pereira
Police say three officers were acting in self-defense over the weekend when they fired off 14 bullets and killed an 18-year-old man who they contend aimed a loaded gun at them.
Dashawn Vasconcellos was loitering near Bayswater Park late Saturday night with friends when he was questioned by officers, police said. The teen allegedly pointed a loaded pistol at the officers and refused to drop the weapon before they unleashed a barrage of shots at Vasconcellos, according to investigators.
The shooting was disturbing for the southeast Queens community, according to City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) since it happened close to the three-year anniversary of the Nov. 25 killing of Sean Bell, who was killed in a hail of 50 police bullets on his wedding day.
“It is a sad and troubling episode and I urge everyone on both sides to handle this with restraint,” Sanders said.
The incident started around 11:30 p.m. when four plainclothes officers spotted the teen and two friends in Bayswater Park, which is six blocks away from Vasconcellos’ home, police said. When the officers approached the teens for questioning, Vasconcellos allegedly fled and three of the officers went after him while the remaining investigator remained to detain his friends.
At the corner of Beach 32nd Street and Far Rockaway Boulevard, police say the 18-year-old turned, faced the officers and pointed a loaded Bryco semi-automatic 9 mm pistol at them. He ignored repeated orders to drop the weapon and the officers fired 14 shots at the teen, 11 of which struck him, according to police.
Vasconcellos, who did not fire his weapon, was quickly rushed to Jamaica Hospital, but was pronounced dead an hour later, according to police.
A spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said five bullets were recovered from the teen’s body while the rest of the shots passed through him during the shooting. He was hit three times in the back, once in the chest, once in the hip, once in the right thigh, once in the right arm, once in the inside heel of his right foot, once in the left thigh, once in the left calf and once in the left knee, according to the medical examiner.
The investigation was ongoing and police were able to recover the silver handgun, which was defaced, according to investigators.
This was not the first time the teen had a brush with the law for having an illegal gun, court papers show. Last year, he was sentenced to time served on a criminal possession of a weapon charge, according to the Queens district attorney’s office.
Vasconcellos was arrested twice in August for allegedly jumping a subway turnstile and riding his bike on the sidewalk, a spokeswoman for the DA’s office said.
A woman answering the phone to Vasconcellos’ family residence at Beach 40th Street refused to comment.
The teen’s death took place one day before parents of several slain southeast Queens youth took to Times Square for a rally against senseless shootings. The Rev. Al Shaprton led the event Monday afternoon and urged parents and city leaders to work harder to stop the gang influence that has led to the death of dozens of teens in southeast Queens over the last few years.
In attendance was Donna Greaves, the mother of Kevin Miller, who was shot to death in September by a stray bullet that was fired across the street by suspected teen Crips members.
“If you know you have a good kid, then you have a good kid, but if you know you have a bad kid, do something about it,” she told reporters at the rally.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.