City Hall has blood on its hands after the fatal shooting of a 20-year-old man outside the Umbrella Hotel in Kew Gardens early New Year’s Day, in New York’s first homicide of 2021.
Of course the triggerman is the person ultimately responsible for the death of Robert Williams, a football star from Southeast Queens who would have turned 21 the next day. But people living in the area, elected officials and this newspaper all had been warning for months that someone was going to end up dead at the motel sooner or later. We all demanded it be shut down, and the city failed to do the job.
Back in August, area officials wrote the city to say that aside from some recent shootings, “public urination, noise complaints, use of illegal substances in front of the property, littering, loitering, violation of public distancing and mask wearing guidelines” and more were all problems at the Umbrella — which sits across the street from Borough Hall. The 102nd Precinct’s commanding officer, Capt. Antonio Fidicaro, said he had never seen so much violence at a hotel. He had cops outside 24/7 for months, but that didn’t last forever. And City Hall’s response under Mayor de Blasio literally was, “We don’t have time for this.” Eventually a bunch of tickets were issued. Whoopee.
Now de Blasio vows to shut it down. But it was still open Wednesday. Message to the mayor: “We don’t have time to wait for this.”