Police are asking for the public’s help in finding the four suspects involved in an alleged gang-related shooting that injured 10 people in Corona on Saturday night.
Just after 10:40 p.m., police responded to numerous calls about a shooting on 37th Avenue between 97th and 98th streets. Two males shot into a group of people between a barbershop and the Dos Bro’s restaurant and sports bar, where a birthday party was taking place.
At a press conference on Sunday morning, NYPD Assistant Chief and Commanding Officer of Patrol Borough Queens North Galen Frierson said 10 people ages 19 to 72 years old were shot in the incident and are being treated at area hospitals for no-life threatening injuries.
“The four suspects are described as males wearing masks and hooded sweatshirts. There are no arrests at this time,” he said.
The two men who fired into the crowd were on foot but fled on the back of scooters driven by two other men.
“The parties involved are believed to be gang-related,” police sources said.
At the press conference, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said that three of the victims were known Trinitario gang members and the other seven are believed to be “unintended targets.”
Essig said there is a recurring theme occurring throughout the city: “That’s gang members. That’s guns, multiple guns on the scene, scooters being used, masks. And lastly, unintended targets getting hit.”
Ballistics investigators have uncovered at least 40 shell casings so far, and the investigation is still in preliminary stages and is ongoing.
Curtis Sliwa, the Republican candidate for mayor and founder of the Guardian Angels, was on the scene Sunday with members of the crime prevention group.
“The fear in the community is retaliatory shooting, which is going to happen. Nobody is saying anything because they fear being targeted themselves,” said Sliwa. “We’ll be here around the clock. As we know, eventually people disappear and this problem continues.”
Like Sliwa, Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough president and a retired NYPD captain, pledges to combat violent crime if elected. He issued a statement on Twitter saying, “This level of extreme violence should be unimaginable for New York, but it is now our disturbing reality. We need a guns and gangs task force that creates unprecedented coordination between all levels of government. We need it now.”
NYPD detectives on Sunday were continuing to recover ballistics evidence from the numerous cars on the block that were struck by bullets.
Jennifer Collado has lived on 37th Avenue for her entire life. She arrived home from work around 10:45 on Saturday night and her 10-year-old daughter asked if she had seen the alert about shots fired on the Citizen app yet.
“She heard it too, she was like, ‘Mom, I thought it was fireworks,’” said Collado.
“This has always been a little hotspot, but never shootings,” said Collado, referring to the part of 37th Avenue where the attack took place. “At least not in a couple of years. When I was younger there was, but nothing like this.”
Collado said she’s “dying to leave” the neighborhood, mainly for her daughter and teenaged son, who is starting high school. “I was born here, I know how to handle this, but they can’t,” she said.
“We see fights here and there, stabbings and stuff but we never see shootings,” said Jennifer’s husband, Dion Collado.
Jose Mencia, a retired court officer and Air Force veteran who also lives on 37th Avenue, was watching the Mets game and waiting for his food at Boca Chica, across the street from where the shooting took place, when he heard shots, also thinking they were fireworks. Then, the owner announced he was going to close and pull down the metal security gates of the restaurant so Mencia went across the street to a bodega where the cashier was noticeably upset following the gunshots. He waited with her until cops came, gathering security footage and Styrofoam coffee cups to temporarily put over the shell casings, Mencia said.
Mencia has lived in the same building on 37th Avenue since 1964, and now lives there with his two daughters, who are in their 20s.
“They worry about me,” he said.
Mencia said he knew of gang activity on the block but keeps his distance. “They know who I am, I know who they are,” he said.
At the press conference, NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes said of the suspects, “They know the area, that’s why they were wearing masks.”
Police officials do not believe the shooting was related to the birthday party going on at Dos Bro’s and cannot say they believe the incident was tied to any other recent shootings.
“Our biggest asset [is] the public when it comes to solving crimes like this,” said Holmes.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 577-TIPS (8477), or, for Spanish, 1 (888) 57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips by logging onto nypdcrimestoppers.com, by texting 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577, or by going to @nypdtips on Twitter. All tips are strictly confidential.