Shots were fired at a group of teenagers’ car as they rode along 38th Avenue and 209th Street in Bayside early last Saturday morning, the New York Police Department reported. One passenger, 19, suffered a gunshot wound to the right side of his back. He was rushed to NewYork-Presbyterian Queens and as of Monday was in stable condition.
According to Capt. John Portalatin, commanding officer of the 111th Precinct, the group of teens, at least one of whom is from Nassau County, were looking for parking near an AirBnB party at approximately 2:50 a.m. when a group of four to six individuals began firing rounds at their car.
An arrest has not been made in the incident, nor is the shooters’ motive known; the investigation is ongoing. Portalatin added that the NYPD is still looking for video footage of the shooters fleeing the scene.
Footage from a house camera shared with the Chronicle by a resident on the block in question shows that at least three people shot at the car numerous times before fleeing on foot. That footage is available for viewing at qchron.com.
The NYPD’s 111th Precinct, which includes Bayside, has long been considered one of the safest — if not the safest, alongside the 112th — precincts in Queens or even the city. Saturday morning’s occurrence is the 111th’s first shooting incident this year; the injured passenger is its first shooting victim.
“The police are on top of it, we’re taking it very seriously, and we’re doing everything we can to avoid these incidents in the future,” Portalatin said.
According to the office of Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside), the house where the party in question was held, located at 208-16 38 Ave., has been occupied by squatters for roughly two years, and that they are renting it out on AirBnB. His office told the Chronicle that it has been working to get in contact with the bank that owns the house, which is in foreclosure.
Stephen Markowski lives across the street from that house, and heard the shots fired on Saturday morning — in fact, he initially thought it was fireworks before a neighbor corrected him. He has been monitoring the squatting situation since its beginning.
“Not only don’t they own it, but they’re making money off of it,” he said.
In Markowski’s view, things should never have progressed this far. In a later conversation with the Chronicle, he said he is considering taking legal action against the city for what he characterized as a lack of action.
“When someone gets killed, why didn’t you act?” he said. “That’s where it’s coming down to.”
State Sen. John Liu (D- Bayside) also addressed the issue.
“This location has been the source of much concern in our community, and with this shooting incident, we are calling on the Department of Buildings to immediately issue a vacate order to ensure no more lives are jeopardized due to inaction,” he said in a prepared statement. “We’ve spoken to neighbors as well as the Department of Buildings, Community Board 11, and 111th Pct. about the shooting as well as the history of squatters and illegal AirBnB rentals at this location, and our community is taking this situation very seriously.”