Friday, June 27, 2008

Spray of bullets wounds 3 in West River neighborhood

By William Kaempffer
Register Staff
— Three people, including a 17-year-old girl, were shot Tuesday in a daylight, drive-by shooting in the West River neighborhood.
The girl was shot in the cheek, although police said the injury was not believed to be life threatening. A 17-year-old male was hit in the ankle.
Both were found at the shooting scene on Winthrop Avenue.
A 27-year-old man, meanwhile, was found a few blocks away with a groin wound. Based on his statements to police, detectives believe he was shot in the same incident, according to Capt. Peter Reichard, the head of the detective bureau.
The car used in the shooting, a stolen Toyota Scion, was found a short time later on Cave Street in Newhallville, but no arrests had been made.
"This is the fourth shooting we’ve called in (to police) in the last 2½ weeks," said Paul Cofrancesco, whose home of 20 years is next door to where Thursday’s shooting took place.
The area of Winthrop Avenue near Chapel Street was out of control in the mid-1990s — two people, he said, were killed the same night he returned with his new wife from their honeymoon — but over the last decade the neighborhood has gradually improved year-by-year, he said. This spring and summer it seems to have regressed to a degree and people are again asking him why he doesn’t move. He said he always gives the same reply: "If all the folks who aren’t doing anything (bad) and are trying to restore order leave, what’s going to be left?"
The shooting happened at about 4:40 p.m. in the 300 block of Winthrop Avenue. The passenger in a southbound Scion opened fire, shooting an estimated seven or eight times.
Reichard said detectives still hadn’t determined if the victims were intended targets or caught in the spray of bullets. The 27-year-old was found at 599 Elm St.
According to police and residents, the densely populated block, filled with apartment buildings and multifamily houses, struggles with unruly youths and gang activity.
"This area has been a persistent problem," said Lt. Ray Hassett, the district manager for the area. "This house has been a persistent problem," pointing to 304-306 Winthrop Ave.
The shell casings littered the street in front of that and a neighboring house.
One resident on the street said she has to come out several times a day and tell the young people loitering in front of her building "Move it" out of fear that they could draw gunfire and imperil her granddaughters.
She identified herself only as "a concerned citizen who wishes more people on the block would come out so this wouldn’t happen."
Dartanya Wylie, who lives at 306 Winthrop, stood outside the crime scene, not far from three children’s bicycles discarded on the grass. She held a birthday cake she bought for her daughter after work.
She was mystified that someone would open fire in an area crowded with so many young children.
"It’s bad," she said. "I’m so tired."

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