By Christina Santucci
Two days after state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) described Roosevelt Avenue as the city’s new version of once crime-ridden Times Square, a 33-year-old man was found with gunshot wounds to his head and neck just steps away from where the legislator had stood.
“The Police Department has done great with the limited resources they have, but we need more,” Peralta said at a news conference at the corner of 90th Street and Roosevelt Avenue Sept. 18. Peralta and western Queens officials – Councilman Daniel Dromm, Comptroller John Liu, Assemblymen Michael Den Dekker and Francisco Moya – had gathered to denounce the fatal stabbing of 69-year-old Ever Orosco at the same intersection Sept. 16.
Four days later, authorities responded to a report of a man shot and found the victim at 89-09 Roosevelt Ave.. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the NYPD said. Police later identified the victim as 33-year-old Ivan Rodriguez, a spokesman for the NYPD said Wednesday.
A 20-year-old Jackson Heights resident, Pedro Silva, was charged in Rodriguez’s death, police said early Thursday. Steven Torres, a 22-year-old Bronx resident, was charged with murder in connection with Orozco’s death, police said.
Several workers and shop owners at the intersection said the recent spate of violence had them worried.
“Of course, it makes me nervous,” said Fatema Zohra, who has owned Kacha Bazar for the past 13 years. “You don’t know when it will happen again.”
A man who identified himself as Patrick and works inside Jackson Heights Home Goods suggested better surveillance in the area could help authorities catch and prosecute those who break the law.
“What they need to do is have video cameras along this street,” he said, motioning to Roosevelt Avenue. “[Police] can identify if someone is bad and catch them more easily.”
Patrick said the crime also takes its toll on the small stores in the area.
“Usually this is a family street,” he said. “People are afraid. Sometimes we lost money because of that.”
Peralta said part of the problem is that Roosevelt Avenue is the divider line between the 110th and 115th precincts and called for one police precinct to be responsible for the busy commercial stretch. The 110th Precinct currently is responsible for the south side of the street and the 115th Precinct watches over the north side.
The lawmaker said additional measures like the revival of the Roosevelt Avenue Task Force, which was originally convened in 1991 and faded out about four years later, trash bins and video cameras were needed to increase security in the area.
“Roosevelt Avenue is referred to as the old Times Square for good reason. Cleaning it up once and for all will require the kinds of resources and determination that were invested in purging Times Square of the sleaze that flourished there for so long,” he said.
Reach Managing Editor Christina Santucci by phone at 718-260-4589 or by email at email@example.com.