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Triple shooting at Kew Gardens hotel marks first homicide of 2021: NYPD

photos by Mari Estrella
The scene where one person was killed and two others were injured during a shooting in front of the Umbrella Hotel in Kew Gardens on Jan. 1, 2021. (Photo by Mari Estrella)

One person was killed and two others were injured in a shooting at the Umbrella Hotel in Kew Gardens early on Friday morning, marking the first homicide of the new year, according to authorities.

Officers from the 102nd Precinct responded to a call regarding the shooting just after 1 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 1. Upon their arrival, officers discovered three people had been shot.

One victim, a 20-year-old man, was shot in his torso, police said, while a 40-year-old man was shot in the torso, arms and legs. Another 20-year-old man was shot in the leg, according to authorities.

EMS arrived at the scene and transported one of the victims, 20-year-old Robert Williams of 255th Street in Rosedale, to NYC Health & Hospitals/Queens, where he was pronounced dead, police said. He was the first homicide victim in New York City in 2021.

The 40-year-old man was transported to Jamaica Hospital in critical condition, and the second 20-year-old victim was transported to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Queens in stable condition, police said.

One of the shooting victims is carried away on a stretcher. (Photo by Mari Estrella)
One of the shooting victims is carried away on a stretcher. (Photo by Mari Estrella)

A police spokesperson said the shooting victims were together at the hotel and engaged in a dispute with a group of at least four people before the shooting.

Cops want to talk to these four individuals in connection with the first homicide of the new year, a deadly shooting at the Umbrella Hotel in Kew Gardens on Jan. 1, 2021. (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

Friends and family, along with former teachers and mentors joined together on Saturday, Jan. 2, to mourn Williams, who was a star quarterback for the Rosedale Jets.

Robert Williams died in the Jan. 1 fatal shooting at the Umbrella Hotel in Kew Gardens. (Photo by Mari Estrella)

 

“Today’s fatal shooting at the Umbrella Hotel near Queens Borough Hall was a sad and troubling way to start the new year,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “Whoever is responsible for this heinous crime must swiftly be brought to justice. It is also time for the Umbrella Hotel, which has already been cited for numerous public safety violations, to be shut down. This hotel is a public nuisance that has no place in Kew Gardens or anywhere in our borough or city. The hotel’s guests and residents of the surrounding community should not be subjected to its dangerous conditions.”

There have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.

Police at the scene of the shooting at the Umbrella Hotel in Kew Gardens on Jan. 1, 2021. (Photo by Mari Estrella)

Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal took to Twitter to call on the mayor’s office to take action and shut down the troublesome Umbrella Hotel, which has been under fire amid a string of violent incidents and was recently hit with more than a dozen violations from the city.

In November, the mayor’s office approved a Multi-Agency Response to Community Hotspots (MARCH) Operation. Participating agencies included the NYPD, FDNY, DEP, DOB and the sheriff’s office. The initial operation yielded 13 summonses from the NYPD, FDNY and DOB.

The hotel, located at 124-18 Queens Blvd., was given court appearances tickets and several fines. A second inspection was conducted, during which FDNY found multiple fire safety violations, including defective fire alarm systems and pumps.

The Umbrella Hotel (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The hotel was also issued two criminal summonses in addition to the earlier violations.

The operation comes after months of community outrage and public statements from local elected officials, who issued a letter to the mayor’s office in August requesting action and assistance for the 102nd Precinct in shutting down the hotel, according to Rosenthal.

“The MARCH operation was a good first step in bringing these concerns to the forefront of enforcement, but we need continued cooperation from the city to ensure that violent crimes and public health violations come to an end at this location. We cannot accept anything less,” Rosenthal said in November.

In August, the front door of the hotel was sprayed with bullets, as it was the scene of a drive-by shooting, according to officials. A separate shooting incident took place at the hotel on July 3. Residents had complained of illegal activity and loud parties taking place at the hotel, disrupting the quality of life in the neighborhood.

Senator Leroy Comrie in November said the 102nd Precinct has been focused on containing and preventing criminal activity at the hotel.

“I am pleased to see that Captain [Antonio] Fidacaro and his command are beginning to receive the multi-agency support that they need to put an end to this nonsense,” Comrie said. “I remain in lockstep with the 102nd Precinct, Assembly member Rosenthal, and my locally elected colleagues in working towards a full resolution to this problem.”

On behalf of the Kew Gardens community and herself, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz in November issued a sincere thank-you to Ficadaro for his resolute determination to bring the “indefensible and outrageous” situation at the hotel under control.

“Hopefully, this mayoral multi-agency response under the captain’s leadership will provide the impetus for shutting down the Umbrella Hotel,” Koslowitz said.

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