Friday, June 8, 2012
Crappy Jackson Heights plaza site of multiple crimes
From the NY Times:
The thief who snatched a taupe, buckle-covered bag from a young woman with a glossy black ponytail and designer sunglasses on Thursday afternoon in Queens might have thought it would be an easy crime.
His well-dressed mark was strolling in Jackson Heights, on a bare and blighted pedestrian plaza near 37th Road, off Broadway, around 1:55 p.m. It seemed he could make a getaway through the thin crowd.
Within 10 minutes, the police had roped off the area. On the trash-strewn plaza, which had been cleared of people, behind a barricade of yellow caution tape, a bullet hole and the shooter’s navy baseball cap remained.
The plaza on which the shooting took place has been rife with controversy since the road was blocked off to create it late last year. It is the same area where a State Supreme Court justice, Thomas D. Raffaele, 69, said a police officer struck him after an unruly crowd surrounded the officer as he arrested a local vagrant. The episode is being investigated by the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau.
Bystanders on Thursday were quick to blame the plaza, saying the reduced traffic had decimated businesses, with tables perpetually staked out by vagrants.
“The quality of the neighborhood has gone tremendously down,” said Agha Saleh, who owns the Internet cafe next to the shop that was struck. Last week, he said, a man stripped naked and ran into a nearby store. “Robberies, guns, drugs — so many things are happening every single day.”