By Mark Hallum
Not five months after the elected officials and community leaders celebrated a full 365 days without gun violence in Queensbridge Houses, a member of the Bloods street gang was shot and killed Monday and died Tuesday.
Queensbridge Houses is the nation’s largest public housing development. It was also one of the most violent for a time.
Police identified the victim as Javares Batts, 38, a Woodside resident who lived in the vicinity of Broadway and 49th Street. NYPD from the 114th Precinct responded to reports of a man shot at around 4:45 p.m. Monday. Police found Batts with gunshot wounds in his chest and torso area before EMS took him to New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Hospital, where he was admitted in critical condition. A little over 24 hours later, Batts had succumbed to his injuries.
Batts had 32 prior arrests and belonged to the Bloods, a police source said.
The investigation was ongoing and there were no arrests in the case as of press time, law enforcement officials said.
Bishop Mitchell Taylor of Urban Upbound, a community organization dedicated to improving public housing spaces at Queensbridge, said Batts was one of many who spent time around the development and led a life of crime.
“We have to be just as vocal when we see these violent crimes that are being committed in the neighborhood amongst young people,” Taylor said. “We have to be just as outraged when we see this, or even more so, as when we see young people being shot by police or things of that nature. The sad thing is you’re not going to see the big protests… over this loss of life… especially when you look at his checkered past.”
Queensbridge has come a long way since the 1980s and ‘90s when it was a violent drug hub. In 1986 alone, the public housing development, which spans six blocks north of the Queensborough Bridge, had more murders than any NYCHA complex in the city. To this day, it is one of 15 developments accounting for up to 20 percent of violent crime in public housing, according to crime statistics.
The situation in Queensbridge began looking up under the de Blasio administration and as civic organizations became involved.
The Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety was launched in 2014 by the de Blasio administration. This initiative paired with the Jacob Riis Settlement House’s 696 Build Queensbridge program funded through the office of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) by engaging young people ages 16 to 24 to discourage gun violence.
But living just a half block away from the housing development, Taylor said he has heard gunshots ringing out with regularity in the past year. He is currently working with youth in Queensbridge to prevent crime from escalating.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall