Rally Held to Help Nab Killer

Gunman In Feb. 2 Slaying At Large

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, State Senators Michael Gianaris and Jose Peralta, along with local residents rallied last Thursday, Feb. 7, to request the public’s help in identifying the killer of a Queensbridge resident shot to death.

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer led a rally in response to a Queensbridge murderer still on the loose. Pictured with him (from left to right) are: State Senator Jose Peralta, Karen Dennis, president of PSA 9 Community Council, Kenny Carter, president of Fathers Alive in the Hood, Suga Ray, a community activist, Bishop Mitchell Taylor, State Senator Michael Gianaris, April Simpson, a Queensbridge resident and Lydia Green, a representative from Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan’s office.

On Feb. 2, Francisco Leal, a 27- year-old man, was shot in the chest after he stepped out of a grocery store near 21st Street and 41st Avenue in Queensbridge. The suspect is still at large as of press time, law enforcement sources said. In an effort to provide an image of the killer the NYPD has released a surveillance video.

“Having someone get away with murder is something we do not tolerate,” said Van Bramer. “One life lost is one too many. The residents of Queensbridge should never fear a barrage of bullets as they walk through their neighborhood and today we’re once again taking a stand. The state has done a tremendous job with tackling gun crime by passing the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE) but it is just a start. The chronic issue with illegal handguns on our city streets must be addressed before even more families suffer the same fate as Leal’s has.”

The SAFE Act requires revocation or suspension of gun licenses held by people who are deemed a danger to society by mental health workers. The bill also expanded the definition of an “assault weapon” to include semiautomatic guns with just one feature commonly associated with military weapons. Previously, the term applied to semiautomatics with two features.

Community leaders from the East River Development Alliance, Astoria/ Long Island City Chapter of the NAACP, PSA 9 Community Council and the Queensbridge Tenants Association joined in to also speak out against gun violence in Queensbridge. In addition, they called for more funding to be directed into social, as well as youth, developmental programming throughout New York City.

“Once again, we come together to mourn the tragic loss of one of our community members because an illegal weapon found its way into the wrong hands,” added Gianaris. “[Last] Saturday’s shooting proves that we must continue to get tough with those who have no regard for our laws or for others’ lives. I am pleased we recently increased penalties for gun crimes but we must remain vigilant as there is more to be done.”

“While we’ve made it harder for criminals to get guns, we still need to make it easier for law enforcement to put murderers in jail,” said Peralta, who is a sponsor of a bill to require that handguns feature a technology that would stamp a microscopic code on the shell casings ejected when a gun is fired. “The microstamps on recovered shell casings give law enforcement the ability to identify a gun used in a crime and determine where and when it was purchased and who bought it. We owe it to the thousands of victims of gun violence whose cases remain unsolved to make microstamping the law in New York.”

Anyone with information regarding the gunman’s whereabouts that could prove helpful is asked to contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1- 800-577-TIPS, by text message to 274637 (enter information, then the code TIP577) or online at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.

All calls and messages will be kept confidential.

More from Around New York