A recent shooting at Queensbridge North Housing has put the neighborhood’s safety issues into focus.
Amy Sanchez, 15, was shot in the left hand by a ricocheting stray bullet at 5:16 a.m. on Sunday while doing her homework, said police.
In 2009, 59 people were arrested in Queensbridge in an NYPD drug trade investigation, and 37 were arrested for an assortment of crimes four years before that in 2005. The neighborhood is 19th out of the city’s 58 community districts for felonious crimes.
Mary Gayman, a 58-year resident of the housing project, said, “There’s a lot of shooting and it shouldn’t be like that. The other Saturday there was a shooting as well.” That incident, she added, went unreported. “The guns look like an epidemic.”
Gayman also reported that the door to her building didn’t lock, despite the fact that the safety issue had been reported to the New York City Housing Authority one or two weeks previously. A visit to her building confirmed her complaint.
“I heard it’s in other buildings too,” she said. “I don’t know who’s in my building.”
Another resident, who wanted to be referred to only as Riesy, said, “There needs to be more security. There are children playing here all the time. They need to get rid of the guns. The police patrol the area but they can’t really stop it.”
State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) responded to the most recent incident by saying, “Sunday’s shooting is the latest example of the need for more sensible gun laws as we experience yet another incident of gun violence resulting in the injury of a young woman.”
Gianaris already has five gun-control bills in the works, some of which will impose additional background checks, a purchase waiting period and a system for reporting all firearm sales.
“We want to increase the number of officers and increase the number of patrols,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
The lack of proper lighting and security cameras is also a problem, according to Secretary of the Queensbridge Tenant Council Ray Normandeau. “People feel like it’s easy to get away with anything,” he said. “My canopy light, it was repaired last night, but it was out since July.”
Normandeau hopes that safety issues in the plagued neighborhood are improved soon. He claimed that soon the violence might affect the new high-rise apartment buildings springing up nearby the housing project.
“The housing authority doesn’t seem to care,” he said.
Van Bramer also stressed, however, that things were already being done to improve the situation in Queensbridge. “We need more positive outlets for young people. A lot of good things are happening, we’ve sponsored a lot of good programs,” he said, referring in part to the community’s Jacob Riis Settlement House, which has a number of programs designed to occupy and educate the community’s youth. “We don’t want a couple of horrible incidents to give people a false impression.”
Van Bramer will be holding an anti-gun-crime rally on Tuesday to raise awareness about the issue. It will be held in the courtyard from which Sanchez was shot.