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  • Tue, October 25, 2016 1:49 PM | Trevor (Administrator)

    Suffolk County police plans to introduce a controversial new tool as part of its latest crackdown on violent gangs: automatic license plate readers.

    The integration of the new surveillance technology in Brentwood, Central Islip and Bay Shore comes amid a spate of murders—six in total—since September. The half-dozen slayings are believed to be gang-related, authorities have said.

    The department plans to roll out at least 50 license plate readers across the three communities, paid for with a $1 million state grant secured by State Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood).

    The short-term goal is to use the devices to solve open cases, officials said. But ultimately, authorities hope to “decimate the gangs that have committed these crimes,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said outside the department’s third precinct in Bay Shore Monday morning.

    The police department has only recently begun discussions of selecting a vendor, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said, adding that the department additionally has the ability to collaborate with municipalities that have also expressed interest in the technology.

    “This is a gigantic shot in the arm,” Sini told reporters. Speaking directly to gang members, he warned: “Do not commit crime in this area. We will catch you.”

    Since the high-profile slayings, beginning in September, the department has aggressively targeted known gang members and boosted patrols in and around Brentwood.

    Crackdown on Gangs

    The latest anti-gang initiative began after the brutally beaten bodies of two best friends—15-year-old Nisa Mickens and 16-year-old Kayla Cuevas—were discovered in Brentwood just one day apart. Their murders are believed to be gang-related, police said. Authorities have since discovered skeletal remains of three missing teens on the grounds of Pilgrim Psychiatric Center on Crooked Hill Road, including that of 18-year-old Jose Pena-Hernandez, an alleged MS-13 gang member.

    In the wake of Mickens’ and Cuevas’ murders, police have flooded the Brentwood area, increased patrols, and developed a list of known gang members that gang officers have used to target specific individuals, Sini said.

    “This pressure is allowing us to gather unbelievable amount of information,” Sini said. “That’s why we have discovered certain crimes that have occurred in the Brentwood area.”

    To date, 30 purported gang members have been arrested for various crimes, ranging from weapons possession to trespassing, Sini said. Additionally, five gang members have been taken into federal custody on racketeering charges. Sini reiterated Monday that the department will not release the names of those in federal custody until authorities believe doing so wouldn’t jeopardize investigations.

    When gang violence in Suffolk ratcheted up nearly a decade ago, the crackdown then included rudimentary police work, such as traffic stops. But technology has progressed so much that police believe license plate readers can be used as a “virtual net” encircling the perimeter of targeted neighborhoods to make it difficult for known gang members to pass through unnoticed.

    Ramos said the community has grown “weary” of the hastily arranged community meetings and ubiquitous task forces spawned from past slayings, characterizing such efforts as “lip service.”

    “We need to get real about this problem and realize that we have to do more than talk about it,” Ramos told reporters.

    Privacy Concerns

    Civil liberties groups have expressed concern about the integration of plate readers because of the technology’s ability to suck up the plate numbers of every vehicle that passes through a virtual checkpoint. How the information is stored, and for how long, has also raised serious privacy questions. Anyone in possession of such data can access a specific vehicle’s travel history, and, for example, use it to ascertain the driver’s religious and political affiliation, thereby creating a profile of that person.

    Ramos said it’s not Suffolk police’s goal to use the technology, which can be outfitted on patrol vehicles and on roadside poles, to monitor the community.

    “We must respect the civil rights of our community,” he said. “Anybody that’s concerned with these cameras spying on them—they will absolutely not be used for anything other than solving a crime.”

    In order to access the database, an officer would require very specific information, including a case number, officials said. Sini noted that the department would periodically run audits to analyze which officers accessed the database to ensure its proper use.

    The three Suffolk communities won’t be the first on Long Island to use these devices.

    The Village of Freeport installed more than two-dozen license plate readers around the perimeter of the community late last year, and within 90 days scanned an astounding 15 million license plates. The village lauded how it was able to issue more than 2,000 summonses over that time period and impound hundreds of cars as well as make several arrests related to stolen vehicles. In one instance, the readers helped catch a man wanted for murder in Virgina, village officials said.

    But the department of less than 100 officers has reportedly been flooded with thousands of hits through its system, which can cross-reference up to 20,000 plate numbers per minute from federal and state motor vehicle records. The deluge has raised concerns about overburdening the village’s small police force.

    In Suffolk, the plan is not to track every single hit, but to input case numbers in order to find specific individuals wanted for serious crimes.

    “The residents of Brentwood, Bay Shore and Central Islip need not be concerned about these cameras unless one is committing a crime,” Ramos stressed.

    “We need to get buy-in…this is an asset for the residents of Brentwood,” Sini added.

    Officials will hold community meetings as the technology is rolled out to address concerns and obtain input.

    In the meantime, police are continuing to put pressure on gangs, Sini said.

    In the last month, violent crime is down 75-percent in Brentwood, he claimed, adding that the department is continuing to collect intelligence.

    “You don’t stumble upon skeletal remains in a densely wooded area by accident,” he said.

  • Mon, October 03, 2016 12:22 PM | Trevor (Administrator)

     

    Residents of Brentwood, N.Y., at a memorial for Nisa Mickens, 15, who was murdered along with her best friend, Kayla Cuevas, 16, last month. The police suspect MS-13, a transnational gang, in the killings. Credit Heather Walsh for The New York Times

    BRENTWOOD, N.Y. — Four dead teenagers. Two weeks. One town. And a ruthless gang, the authorities say, was most likely responsible for the toll. Again.

    On Sept. 13, Nisa Mickens, 15, and her best friend, Kayla Cuevas, 16, were murdered, their battered bodies found near an elementary school here. A week later and just two miles away, the skeletal remains of two more teenagers — identified as Oscar Acosta, 19, and Miguel Garcia-Moran, 15 — were found in the woods near a psychiatric hospital. Oscar had been missing since May, Miguel since February. Their deaths have been ruled homicides.

    Brentwood, a hardscrabble town of nearly 60,000 on Long Island, 40 miles east of Manhattan, has reached another crisis point. For nearly two decades, MS-13, a gang with roots in Los Angeles and El Salvador, has been terrorizing the town, the authorities say, especially its young people. Since 2009, its members have been accused of at least 14 murders, court and police records show.

    School officials are scrambling. Police officers are searching. Students are frightened. Parents are anguished.

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    “It’s so hard, I’m hurting,” Evelyn Rodriguez, Kayla’s mother, said last week. “I wish I could hold my daughter again.”

    Photo

    Clockwise from top left, Oscar Acosta, Kayla Cuevas, Miguel Garcia-Moran and Nisa Mickens.

    In her first interview since Kayla’s funeral, Ms. Rodriguez spoke measuredly about how her daughter had been bullied by gang members inside and outside her high school.

    “To me, it’s worse than it was before; it’s everywhere,” said Ms. Rodriguez, a 1987 graduate of Brentwood Ross High School, where her daughter was a student. “This is ridiculous,” she added. “We need some type of assistance to help our police officers here and see if they can come together to figure out a plan to make things better for the kids now.”

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    The path to such a plan, however, runs through a fractured Suffolk County. Its former police chief is headed to jail, its district attorney is under federal investigation and a Justice Department settlement mandated changes in the Police Department in 2013 after findings of bias against Latino residents.

    Tensions simmer here because some residents say they believe an increase in Central American migrants to town has led to the increase in gang violence. According to 2014 census figures compiled by Queens College, Brentwood’s population is 68 percent Latino or Hispanic, with more than 17,000 residents claiming to be from El Salvador.

    Timothy Sini, who became the Suffolk County police commissioner 11 months ago, after his predecessor, James Burke, pleaded guilty to civil rights violations and obstruction of justice, has vowed to eradicate the gangs.

    Photo

    Evelyn Rodriguez and Freddy Cuevas, Kayla’s parents. “It’s so hard, I’m hurting,” Ms. Rodriguez, said. “I wish I could hold my daughter again.” Credit Heather Walsh for The New York Times

    “The only people in Brentwood who have anything to fear are the criminals,” Mr. Sini said. “That’s because there is a tsunami of law enforcement officers at their doorsteps.”

    The department has increased uniformed patrols and door-to-door canvassing, and rejoined the eight-member Long Island Gang Task Force of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Sini said he met recently with dozens of agencies including Homeland Security Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

    “It’s not a good time to be a gang member in Brentwood,” he said.

    One gang member was arrested and was in federal custody for questioning, Mr. Sini added, although a motive for the murders was still unclear. The F.B.I. confirmed it was assisting the police.

    The Brentwood School District held a community forum last month with elected officials and parents that ran for four hours.

    There, according to Ms. Rodriguez, school officials said some students had been “red-flagged” for having possible gang affiliations.

    Photo

    Rob Mickens and Elizabeth Alvarado, Nisa’s parents, at a vigil for the girls last month. Credit Heather Walsh for The New York Times

    “So if they are red-flagged, why are they in the school?” Ms. Rodriguez said. “Kids are being targeted. They’re trying to find some type of safe way to even go to school,” she added. “Being in school, they always have to look over their shoulder to see who’s walking.”

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    Brentwood has 4,400 high school students divided into two schools, and administrators say the environment is safe.

    “Gang members rarely present themselves in the schools,” Richard Loeschner, the principal of Brentwood Ross High School, said. “If they do, we take care of that pretty quickly.”

    But ultimately, he said, after acknowledging that the administration knew of about 20 to 25 students in the district with possible gang affiliations, there is only so much officials can do.

    “We can’t exclude a kid because we suspect they are in a gang,” Mr. Loeschner said. “That’s state and federal law that they are entitled to an education.”

    Photo

    Levi McIntyre, the superintendent of the Brentwood School District, at Kayla’s wake. “It’s tearing the fabric of our community apart,” Dr. McIntyre said of gang violence in the town. Credit Heather Walsh for The New York Times

    Even before the girls’ murders, students were subject to random screenings with metal detectors, which have increased over the past few weeks, he added. There are no detectors at the entrances of either high school, however.

    Some parents were concerned that the school’s response to the violence was not proactive enough. Levi McIntyre, the school superintendent, sent an email to parents warning their children not to wear royal blue, the color identified with MS-13, or clothes displaying the Salvadoran flag. A student on the way to school, he wrote, recently had his blue shirt torn off by gang members and burned.

    MS-13 was formed in Los Angeles in the 1980s by immigrants from El Salvador escaping civil war. The abbreviation stands for Mara Salvatrucha, which roughly translates to “Salvadoran street posse.”

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    The authorities say the gang has been in Suffolk County since around 1998, and is organized in cliques bearing names like the Brentwood Locos Salvatruchas. Leaders gather to discuss their lines of business — extortion, prostitution, robbery, drug dealing — and to authorize the killings of chavalas, or members of rival gangs like the Bloods and the Crips, court papers say.

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    In 2009, a 15-year-old boy, Christopher Hamilton, was fatally shot in the head after an MS-13 crew in search of chavalas opened fire with rifles and handguns on a house party on American Boulevard here.

    Photo

    The scene outside Kayla’s wake. Credit Heather Walsh for The New York Times

    Two years later, an 18-year-old Brentwood man was fatally shot in his driveway, and a 22-year-old local leader of MS-13 was convicted of the killing.

    “In the past, it used to be like rival gangs on each other,” Dr. McIntyre said. “But now it has taken another turn. When it goes after all kids, it’s a whole new realm. It’s tearing the fabric of our community apart.”

    Noel Vega’s son was a classmate of the murdered girls, who wondered whether he could be next.

    “He’s more upset about the fact that they keep finding bodies,” Mr. Vega said, standing outside a Brentwood funeral home for Kayla’s wake with fellow members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association. They are not the only group offering unofficial security to the town; he noted that the crisis even brought the Guardian Angels to Brentwood.

    Of his son, Mr. Vega added: “He actually wants to move out of Brentwood; he wants to move out of state. He’s upset and he fears for the loss of his friends and himself. It gets me upset; we all get upset.”

    The recent murders have exacerbated disputes in the town over immigration policy, which Donald J. Trump, the Republican candidate for president, fueled during last week’s debate by saying that the gangs roaming the streets were made up of illegal immigrants.

    Photo

    Friends of Kayla wore T-shirts designed in her honor to her wake. Credit Heather Walsh for The New York Times

    “There’s been a huge influx, to be honest with you,” said Ray Mayo, the president of the Brentwood Association of Concerned Citizens, who added that he was upset over undocumented immigrants crowding rental properties. “It seems like a whole new set of gang members who have stirred the pot up.”

    Two law enforcement authorities, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing murder investigation, said that over the last several years the gang has sought to enlist recent immigrants from Central America because they are often more vulnerable to recruitment.

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    But some recently settled families are just as worried about their own children’s safety.

    “I am afraid, as a Salvadoran,” said Ana, 38, a mother of two girls, one in high school. She fled El Salvador in 2006 and has since become a member of Make the Road New York, an immigrant activist group. She did not want to give her full name for fear of retribution.

    “It makes me feel bad that people think this of all Salvadorans,” she said. “Violence was the reason I left — when they killed my brother. And now we are experiencing the same violence.”

    Distrust of the Suffolk County police among Latinos is palpable and long documented. Residents said they were dismayed by a dearth of Spanish-speaking officers, and undocumented immigrants in particular often worry that if they report information, the authorities will turn them over to immigration officials.

    Photo

    Supporters at the girls’ vigil. The murders have exacerbated disputes in the town over immigration policy. Credit Heather Walsh for The New York Times

    Mr. Sini said that would not happen, and that he was trying to reassure immigrant communities to work with the police.

    Ms. Rodriguez, whose parents came from Puerto Rico, said that two years ago, when gang members threatened Kayla on a friend’s block, she went to the police.

    “I got attitude like they were talking to somebody off the street,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “They wouldn’t even report it,” she added. “They told me to tell her: ‘Don’t go on the block.’”

    The feeling of helplessness is spreading among the teenagers.

    At a vigil held for the murdered girls before a football game, some students held signs: “Help Us!” “Stop the Violence!” Others shook their heads when Mr. Sini told students to call a hotline for investigative tips.

    “We’re the ones out here, dealing with it all,” said a 16-year-old boy who would give only his nickname, Tiny T. “They think they can do something, but they’re just fooling. They can’t do nothing.”

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    At Kayla’s wake, a 17-year-old student too afraid of MS-13 to give his name said: “You don’t know who’s watching you, who’s following you. Just yesterday, a group of guys in a car with blue bandannas followed a girl home in Brentwood.”

    He, his mother and his cousin wore T-shirts that read “Justice for Kayla,” which they had printed at the mall. “Afraid?” his cousin, a 19-year-old woman, said. “There’s not even a limit to afraid.”

    At memorials for both Kayla and Nisa, on the cul-de-sac near where their bodies were found, basketballs sat among the glass candles and deflated balloons. Kayla, a tenacious athlete, was going to try out for the varsity basketball team this year. Instead, her mother was starting a scholarship fund called Ball Is My Life.

    Ms. Rodriguez hoped her daughter’s death would at least stop the cycle. “It can’t go on anymore,” she said.

    Correction: October 2, 2016

    An earlier version of this article misspelled the given name of the mother of Kayla Cuevas, one of the girls who was killed in what the authorities said was a gang-related homicide. Her name is Evelyn Rodriguez, not Eveylyn. The error was repeated in a picture caption.

  • Fri, September 30, 2016 3:11 PM | Trevor (Administrator)

    NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - At least four teens have been found dead in Brentwood, Long Island, in the past month. The town has been plagued by gang violence. Police and community came together at a meeting where officials addressed the growing fears.

    Community activists and residents pointed to MS13 one of the most violent gangs in the country they say is destroying their community. The FBI and Suffolk County police believe the gang may be responsible for the beating deaths this month of teens Nisa Mickens and her best friend Kayla Cuevas. The skeletal remains of two teenage boys were also found this month. 

    At the meeting in Central Islip, the community asked Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini what is being done.

    Local and state lawmakers also attended the meeting. It was emotional for many of these residents as they also call on one another to stand up to the gang violence.

  • Fri, September 30, 2016 3:09 PM | Trevor (Administrator)

     The high-security Metropolitan Detention Center was on lockdown Wednesday after a violent brawl between MS-13 and Crips gang members at the federal lockup in Brooklyn.

    At least five combatants were sent to the hospital, but none of the MDC's high-profile inmates, including former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke, former Converse CEO Jacob (Kobi) Alexander, two NYPD cops, and several accused terrorists, were injured, a source said.

    The Brooklyn U.S. Attorney's office was preparing criminal charges against at least one gang member in connection with the melee, and others could still face charges in addition to their pending cases, sources said.

     

  • Thu, September 29, 2016 3:08 PM | Trevor (Administrator)

    The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York denied an appeal by Justin Alfonso, the triggerman in a botched assassination organized by the Latin King's street gang.

    On July 15, 2013, Alfonso, now 21, was sentenced to between 59 ⅔ to 79 years in state prison for the failed Latin King's street gang assassination attempt on two people in the City of Poughkeepsie, according to Journal archives.

    Alfonso's appeal stated that his statements to the police should have been suppressed, as the detective had downplayed the significance of the Miranda warnings. The Supreme Court of the State of New York found that, while the statement should have been suppressed, the error did not contribute to the Alfonso's conviction.

    Charges against Alfonso included second-degree conspiracy, two counts second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, first-degree attempted assault and first-degree gang assault, according to the court.

  • Thu, September 29, 2016 3:07 PM | Trevor (Administrator)

    MORRIS HEIGHTS, Bronx (WABC) --

    A 21-year-old man was fatally shot in a Bronx playground Tuesday evening, apparently when he became caught in the crossfire of a gang dispute.

    Authorities say Yunior Manon was shot in the back of the head while sitting on a bench inside Morton Playground in Morris Heights just before 7:30 p.m.

    The gunman appeared to have been aiming at another group in what may be a gang-related shooting, police said.

    Video obtained exclusively by Eyewitness News shows people running for their lives as bullets fly at the playground. Minutes later, officers with flashlights can be seen walking through the area.

  • Thu, September 29, 2016 7:35 AM | Trevor (Administrator)

    LOWER MANHATTAN — A gang member who shot and killed two men in a turf war nine years ago has been charged with murder, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

    Abraham Cucuta, 32, unleashed “a hail of bullets on a summer night” in 2007 in a courtyard within Harlem’s East River NYCHA complex, said DA Cyrus Vance Jr.

    The shootings killed 18-year-old Joshua Agard and 27-year old Manuel Sabater “for no other reason than to assert [Cucuta's] gang’s territory,” officials said.

    Cucuta, a member of the Bloods, was shooting dice with Agard — a member of the rival Crips gang — and Sabater, a fellow Blood, and several other gang members at approximately 4:30 a.m. on June 7, 2007 at the housing complex, officials said.

    Cucuta left the game and came back with a gun and sprayed the courtyard with bullets, officials said.

    He attempted to shoot one of the members of the Crips gang but, instead, shot Sabater. He then shoved Agard to the ground and shot him multiple times, officials said.

    Both victims died shortly after.

    “This case underscores our commitment to seek justice for every victim of violent crime in every neighborhood of Manhattan,” said Vance.  

    “I thank my office’s prosecutors for their dedicated pursuit of justice, and for showing New Yorkers that cold cases are not forgotten cases.”

  • Mon, September 26, 2016 7:34 AM | Trevor (Administrator)

    EAST HARLEM, NY — A man is facing charges for a 2007 double murder in East Harlem that involved a deadly dice game between rival gangs the "Bloods" and "Crips."

    Members of both gangs were playing dice outside the East River housing complex around 4:30 a.m. on on June 7, 2007 when Abraham Cucuta — a member of the Bloods — brought a gun to the game and started shooting, according to an indictment from the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

    Cucuta was attempting to shoot a member of the Crips, but instead gunned down fellow Bloods member Manuel Sabater, 27, officials said. Cucuta then shoved Crips member Joshua Agard, 18, to the ground before shooting him to death, officials said.

    “As alleged, this defendant unleashed a hail of bullets on a summer night in 2007, killing two young men for no other reason than to assert his gang’s territory,” said District Attorney Vance in a statement. “This case underscores our commitment to seek justice for every victim of violent crime in every neighborhood of Manhattan. I thank my Office’s prosecutors for their dedicated pursuit of justice, and for showing New Yorkers that cold cases are not forgotten cases.”

    Cucuta has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder.

  • Thu, September 01, 2016 1:55 PM | Trevor (Administrator)

    Shootings of two children started and ended a bloody summer in Buffalo, leaving two young boys fighting for their lives and city leaders calling for an end to gang violence.

    The summer started when an 11-year-old, Juan “Macho” Rodriguez, was hit by a stray bullet while he was opening his front door.

    Then on Thursday night, 8-year-old Donnell “Donny” Bibbes was shot in the head while sitting in a parked car with his mother and two older brothers.

    Police say the two shootings were gang-related, and that neither boy was the intended target.

    Juan was caught in the crossfire of two gang members when he opened the door to call his siblings inside to safety. Police believe that shooting had nothing to do with Juan or his family.

    Donnell was in a car with two older brothers who police believe are gang members, and one was the target. What’s more, the intended target is a suspect in two homicides, a police source said.

    “We all know that this was a targeted act of violence,” Mayor Byron W. Brown said Friday morning. “It is not a random act of violence. Donnell was with members of his family and we believe that a member of the family was targeted.”

    “This is a senseless act of violence that leaves an 8-year-old fighting for his life,” he added.

    Both boys are now the innocent victims of guns and the city’s gang culture.

    “We had the shooting of that 11-year-old boy and that was unacceptable,” said Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda.

    The incident Thursday night happened after Donnell’s mother, Chawniqua Johnson, had driven her three sons to visit a relative on the 400 block of South Division Street.

    Before they exited the car, police said, the shooter got out of another vehicle and approached the one Donnell and his family were in. The shooter opened fire with a handgun from about 20 to 30 feet away and fired as many as 15 bullets.

    When the gunfire ended, the shooter had missed his mark and instead Johnson’s youngest son was gravely wounded from a bullet to his head.

    Johnson drove away in search of help and the gunman fled in another vehicle. She spotted a police patrol car by a nearby shopping plaza and flagged it down. Her son was rushed to Women & Children’s Hospital, where he was in critical condition Saturday morning after two surgeries.

    The intended target of the shooting was believed to be Davieon White, Donnell’s 19-year-old brother, who was seated in the front seat of the car, according to police and friends of the family.

    “He is a suspect in two homicides,” one police source said.

    The third brother, Raheem White, 23, was seated in the back seat of the car next to Donnell, authorities said.

    Thursday’s shooting is the latest in what has been a summer marked by repeated violence. The first two months of the summer saw the number of shootings surpass any other time of the year, with nearly 70 people shot in June and July. At least 24 people have been shot in 20 shooting incidents so far in August, leaving six people dead and 18 injured.

    Police say that most of the recent shootings in Buffalo have been gang-related, with investigators getting little help in solving these cases. Witnesses and community members with information are often unwilling to give it to police.

    Addressing the gunfire between rival gangs, a police source said, “The gangs are shooting each other. One week they’re the shooting victim, but the week before that, they are the suspect in a shooting.”

    The mayor and the police commissioner on Friday issued repeated appeals for witnesses to give statements to homicide investigators. In stressing how crucial cooperation is, the mayor said that going forward, rewards from the police department and Crimestoppers would be offered to help solve other shootings.

    “These crimes will not be tolerated and our police will not rest until we find the individuals,” Brown said. “There are individuals out in the community that know the individual who is responsible for this shooting.”

    When Derenda was asked why there are a high number of unsolved homicides this year, he said many of them have gang connections and gang members often refuse to cooperate.

    At least a third of this year’s 32 homicides are believed to be gang-related.

    Davieon and Raheem White, police say, have been identified as possible members of an East Side street gang.

    A second police source confirmed that Davieon White is a suspect in two shootings. He has not been charged in either incident, but Davieon White has a lengthy arrest record, with his most recent encounter with police on Aug. 10, when he was charged with burglarizing the home of a neighbor in the housing projects where he lives.

    Davieon White flaunted a gang lifestyle in hundreds of photos and videos on Facebook. His page is littered with references to gang culture and drug dealing.

    One photo from 2014 shows Davieon White in a hospital bed with the text “Ain’t no bullet stoppin me.”

    Whether Donnell, 8, would survive the shooting remained unknown Saturday morning.

    He suffered a devastating bullet wound to his brain, according to police sources.

    The mayor, Derenda and Deputy Police Commissioner Kimberly Beaty met with Johnson and more than a dozen family members at the hospital Friday morning before updating the media on the boy’s condition at a news conference in front of the hospital.

    And while police believe gang activity resulted in Donnell becoming an unintended victim, that does not diminish the pain family members are experiencing.

    Brown said the family members were “leaning on each other and asking the community for prayer.”

    The mayor also released a statement from Donnell’s mother, thanking everyone for prayers and asking for privacy.

    But neighbors of Donnell felt compelled to speak out and express their feelings about what happened Thursday.

    Jakyle Foster, a neighbor and the boyfriend of Donnell’s 18-year-old sister Dazhanique White, recalled happier times this summer when Donnell was taken by relatives to go fishing and posed for a photograph holding a fish that had been caught.

    But most of the time, Donnell spent his time off from school in his Kenfield-Langfield neighborhood.

    “Every day I’m outside with him throwing a football around or he’s riding his bicycle,” Foster said. “He’s such a funny, good kid.”

    Another neighbor who has known Donnell since he was an infant said his mother has done her best raising four children as a single parent.

    “He’s an awesome boy and everybody is praying for him,” said neighbor Carmella Turner.

    Among those praying for Donnell is Juan Rodriguez’s mother, Sonia Pagan, who understands the heartbreak and shares Johnson’s pain.

    Pagan said she was shocked when her sister called her Friday morning to inform her that another child had been shot in the city.

    “Please let the family know they are in my prayers,” she said. “The road to healing is definitely a long one but God covers his children and I will continue to keep the family in my prayers.”

    Pagan said Juan remains paralyzed on the left side of his body, but that he is improving with his cognition.

    The violence, she said, needs to stop.

    And just as Pagan is now praying for Johnson’s little boy, earlier this summer Johnson’s thoughts were with Juan and his family.

    The day following Juan’s shooting – with no way of knowing her own son would be shot two months later – Johnson shared this on Facebook:

    “Let’s have a moment of silence and pray for our city and the whole (716). My father God I come to you asking that you give us our city back. We’re tired of hurting, losing our loved ones, crying, struggling and not being able to make it back home to our kids. God I just ask that you put an end to it, so our kids can play and not get killed. Where we can hang outside and not have to run from bullets. God I’m on bended knees pleading please give us our city back and please stop the violence.”

  • Fri, August 26, 2016 1:54 PM | Trevor (Administrator)

    BUFFALO, N.Y. -- An 8-year-old boy fighting for his life after he was shot on South Division in Buffalo Thursday night was injured in a gang-related shooting, according to police in Buffalo.

    Buffalo police are calling on the community to help find those responsible the shooting. Donnell Bibbes remains in critical condition Friday afternoon after being rushed to Women and Children's Hospital.

    Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and the police said it appears the act of violence was gang-related. They say the older brothers of Donnell were likely the intended targets.

    The three brothers and their mother were sitting in their car in the 400 block of South Division Street around 10 Thursday night when 10 to 15 shots rang out, hitting the car several times and ultimately hitting Donnell in the head.

    The incident happened right in front of the Buffalo Elementary School for Technology, which was a cause for concern to many parents in the neighborhood.

    Police said while the location of the shooting is troubling, they're concerned about all of the recent violence against children in the city.

    "It's a concern anywhere it happens, this happened after 10 o'clock last night so the school becomes irrelevant. Anywhere it happens is unacceptable. The violence where an 8-year-old gets struck in the head and, as the reporter said, an 11-year-old few weeks earlier, unacceptable cannot tolerate and we need people to step forward and let us know what they know," said Buffalo Police Department Commissioner Daniel Darenda.

    Donnell's mother released a statement:

    "Our family would like to thank everyone for their concern and prayer for Donnell. At this time, we have asked for our privacy. Please continue to pray for him as he fights to recover."

    Police are offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest.

    Anyone with information should call or text the Confidential TIPCALL Line. That number is 716-847-2255.

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