Teen Shot Outside Campos Plaza Community Center

East 9th Street last night.

Another weekend, another teen shooting. Last night, residents gathered on East 9th Street for a candlelight vigil, part of a worldwide candle lighting service. Less than 48 hours earlier, bullets rang out once again at the Campos Plaza public housing development four blocks away.  As The Local East Village and EV Grieve reported, police were swarming Friday night around the troubled complex, where a 19-year old man was shot in the leg. No suspects have been arrested.

The vigil took place outside the apartment of Aida Salgado, whose son Keith was shot and killed at Campos Plaza in October.  Residents lamented the cycle of violence that has taken so many young lives and read the names of teen victims. Just last week, some of these same people were assembled in the gym at Campos Plaza, where elected officials and the Police Athletic League announced  a new recreational program to get kids off the street.

Mendez: Security Cameras Coming to Campos Plaza

Campos Plaza housing complex on East 12th Street.

Yesterday we were at the Campos Plaza Housing public housing complex, where elected officials announced the creation of an after-school recreational program.  Community activists, who have repeatedly called for more programs aimed at keeping kids off the streets, were clearly pleased.

During a news conference, they also praised the police department for stepping up patrols in the aftermath of the murder of teenager Keith Salgado in the housing project’s courtyard back in October.  “It’s sad to say it took a murder, but I’m glad there’s better security,” said Dereese Huff, Campos Plaza’s tenant association president.

For many years, residents have urged the New York City Housing Authority to install security cameras at Campos.  In this year’s city budget, Councilmember Rosie Mendez allocated $400,000 for cameras at the development. Huff has said she’s convinced the cameras would be a strong deterrent to crime and drug dealing — and she’s expressed frustration that it’s taking so long to complete the project.

In Aftermath of Teen Murder, Recreation Program Coming to Campos Plaza

Six weeks ago, Lower East Side teenager Keith Salgado was murdered in the courtyard of the Campos Plaza public housing complex on East 12th Street. Today his mother, community activists and elected officials gathered in the gymnasium, just a few hundred feet from the scene of the crime. They were there to announce the creation of a new “education and engagement” program inside the Campos Plaza Community Center.

Police ID Suspect in Murder of Lower East Side Teen

NYPD Photo via DNA Info.

The NYPD has released the name and a photo of a suspect they’re searching for in the murder of 18-year old Keith Salgado earlier this month. Salgado was shot and killed in the courtyard of the Campos Plaza public housing complex on East 12th Street October 16th.
According to DNA Info, Crimestoppers has put the word out for information about the suspect’s whereabouts. Hockeem Smith, 24, is wanted for questioning about the crime, which was witnessed by dozens of people gathered for a late night game of dice.  Police say Smith weighs about 140 pounds and is 5’6″ tall.
If you have information, you can call 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). You can also submit a tip by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577.

 

Family, Friends Mourn Teen Murder Victim

Keith Salgado.

Over the weekend, several news outlets reported on the shooting death of a teenager in the East Village. 18-year old Keith Salgado collapsed on top of a cab at the intersection of Avenue C and 12th Street Sunday, around 2 a.m.  Suffering from bullet wounds to the stomach, Salgado was rushed to Bellevue Hospital, but doctors could not save him. He was pronounced dead at 8:50 a.m. yesterday.

Readers of The Lo-Down may be familiar with the Salgado family.  Two years ago, we posted several stories about “Mothers and Fathers in Arms,” a group of parents who wanted to do something about youth violence. One of the main organizers of that group was Aida Salgado, Keith’s mother.

In Their Own Words: Residents Discuss LES Violence

We wanted to hear what people in the neighborhood had to say in the aftermath of the shootings at a club on Avenue A late Saturday night. As we've been reporting, 42-Year old Eric "Taz" Pagan was fatally shot. Two others are recovering from gun shot wounds. Police now have a suspect in custody. The first man on the video below is Richie Alvarez. He was friends with Pagan for more than 10 years. Next is Dereese Huff, the Tenant Association president at the Campos Plaza Housing Project. The last woman interviewed is Aida Salgado, a longtime LES resident and mother. Dereese and Aida have been concerned about the escalating violence in the neighborhood for some time. They are among a group planning to hold a news conference Wednesday at 11am, to call for more resources in the community to fight crime and help kids stay away from drugs and violence. We'll have more details about that later today.

Avenue C Shooting Sparks New Concerns About Increasing Violence

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The victim was shot as he left this bodega on 12th Street & Avenue C

On Sunday, we noted the local TV coverage of a shooting on Avenue C, near 12th Street. A man was struck in the chest about 5am, shortly after buying a sandwich inside this bodega. We now have a few more details. Apparently, the violence spread across the street to the Villagio pizza shop.

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A bullet hole is still visible on the front door of the Villagio pizza shop, across from the bodega.

There's a bullet hole and shattered glass in the restaurant's front door. An employee confirmed that the damage was a result of the Sunday incident. According to word on the street, the shooting was a continuation of a fight that started earlier in the day. The victim was apparently a resident of the Campos Plaza Housing Project, next door to the bodega.

Unlike some other recent incidents, it doesn't appear this past weekend's violence was drug or gang-related, although some of the people involved may have been gang members. In the past several days, however, community activists, youth leaders and NYPD officials have stepped up their efforts to find a way to reduce the simmering tensions inside the neighborhood's housing projects. Earlier this week, counselors and parents from the Campos Plaza community center led a group of children, some as young as nine, over to the pizza shop to look at the aftermath of the shooting. Among their top priorities now — preventing gangs from recruiting more kids.

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Police officers were stationed outside Campos Plaza this morning.

Officers from the NYPD's PSA4, which covers 23 housing projects, have met with community leaders and counselors in the past week about combating the problem. Residents believe the lack of recreational and extracurricular programs for youth have made kids even more susceptible to the lure of gangs and drugs. The New York City Housing Authority slashed the funding for its community centers. The Boys' Club shuttered its facility on Pitt and Houston Street, several years ago, saying gentrification had reduced the need for the organization's services. A second Boys' Club center on 10th Street suspended its summer programs, apparently due to budget difficulties.

In a recent interview with The Lo-Down, Damaris Reyes, the executive director of the community organization, GOLES, talked about the youth violence issue and the lack of programs for teens:

What GOLES is focused on is trying to look at
alternatives to violence by creating spaces and opportunities for young
people to do something positive and productive and be engaged in
something that's meaningful that could be recreational, that could be
summer jobs. It could be all kinds of things. We do work as part of the
POP Coalition, which is the Power of Peace. For example, on August 15th
at the Generation X Garden (4th Street between B & C) we are having
our second day of programming for the GO LES Summer Fest, which will
include open mic for young people from the community, to come share
their talent with us. It is a way to encourage them to come do some
positive things. So there is need for concern, there is activity that
is happening, there's more than meets the eye and … to
some extent, there is a lack of a focus on that age group – and
positive activities and resources that will help them, steer in another
direction.

We stopped by this past weekend to check in on the Summer Fest event, which included remarks from City Council member Rosie Mendez, who is helping sponsor the series. You can see our video from the Generation X Garden here. Mendez provided funding several months ago for security cameras at Campos Plaza. But residents say, NYCHA has not installed them, due to budget constraints.

Another City Council member, Alan Gerson, has given the Chinatown YMCA (on Houston Street & the Bowery) funding for summer programs for kids in the neighborhood. After this past week's violence, there's talk about extending those programs beyond the end of this month. Dereese Huff, president of the Campos Plaza Residents Association, is trying to organize a "stop the violence" event, to be held in the early fall.

Beyond Tru Life’s Arrest: Growing Fears of a Violent Summer

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In the trendy bars and restaurants along Avenue B, last week's arrest of Lower East Side rapper Roberto Rosado (aka "Tru Life") was barely noticed if it was noticed at all. The Times and the Daily News ran their obligatory stories– only on account of "Tru Life's" one-time status as protégé of rap music mogul Jay Z. But a few steps away down 13th Street, inside the Campos Plaza Housing Project, the story was anything but trivial. Street-smart kids, moms and youth counselors all knew the violence that had erupted a few days earlier was a bad omen, at the start of a long, tense summer.

It would be easy to dismiss the events of the past two weeks as an isolated incident, the conclusion of a long-simmering argument between a hot-tempered rapper and some guys from the neighborhood. But it's become clear that they hint at much larger problems: a pattern of escalating violence, a burgeoning drug trade and the prospect of a full-blown gang war.

Here's what we know.  "Tru Life," is being held without bail on Rikers Island, having pled not guilty to charges of second- degree murder and gang assault in connection with a knife fight that ended in the murder of a 20-year old man, Christopher Guerrero.  Tru Life's brother, Marcus Rosado, and, possibly, two other men are also being held.  Police believe the trouble began hours earlier at a Midtown nightclub, where gunfire erupted and a suspected drug dealer, Michael Slater, was shot in the stomach. There are many conflicting accounts of what happened. But it seems clear the night's violence was fueled by a bitter feud among rival drug gangs based in New York's housing projects. The tensions have apparently been escalating since the early spring, perhaps even earlier.

At a recent community meeting the NYPD acknowledged they've seen an up tick of violence in the neighborhood.  But they resisted suggestions that they have an "organized gang problem" on their hands. Captain Edward Britton, responsible for policing 23 housing developments and 40-thousand residents, emphasized that violent crime is still quite low, historically speaking. But some mothers in attendance made it clear a series of incidents over several months have them more than a little worried.  These include the pursuit of a teen by men in SUV's brandishing guns, a shootout on Clinton Street and a murder last year at Campos Plaza. 

Reports of increasing violence are not new.  Late last year, residents demanded more police protection after several shootings at the Alfred E. Smith Houses.  Community newspapers and blogs have taken note of several violent episodes at Tompkins Square Park.  Police have been investigating the death of a woman who was reportedly attacked in the park two months ago.  While they're not convinced she was murdered, some park regulars believe a major gang in the area, the Money Boyz, was responsible.