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.
Last night, she sat in her living room, along with grief-stricken friends and loved-ones, still in shock from the tragic events which unfolded hours earlier. According to several people close to the family, Salgado was playing dice Saturday night with some friends/acquaintances in the courtyard of the Campos Plaza public housing complex.
During the game, they said, another teen suddenly opened fire, aiming for Salgado, at close range. After being shot, he somehow managed to stumble out onto Avenue C. The Local East Village spoke with the cab driver, who said, “I was here at the red light… There was a kid walking with another kid, about to cross. I tried to make my turn; he crumbled and he fell down.” Police descended on the scene, but the suspect had disappeared. No arrests had been made as of this morning.
Like many kids living in or near the neighborhood’s housing projects, Keith was no stranger to violent conflict. When I interviewed Aida, his mother, in 2009, Keith sat in a corner of the living room, IM-ing with friends. After being harassed at school and chased through the streets of the Lower East Side, Aida had forbidden him from going outside, except when absolutely necessary.
Last night, makeshift memorials had been set up outside the family home on East 9th Street and at Campos Plaza. Dereese Huff, the tenant association president at Campos, said she was devastated by the murder and disgusted by the cycle of violence that has taken so many young lives. Huff said there are no security cameras in the housing complex. Repeated pleas for cameras and other security measures have not been acted upon, she said.
Jeffry Solomon, a youth counselor who had known Salgado since he was 7 years old, called him a “sweet kid who always had a smile on his face.” Acknowledging that Keith had accumulated a police record, Solomon said Salgado was a victim of his environment. “He was born in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Solomon told me. “But he was a beautiful kid.”