Shocked By Gang Killing, Fearful Elmhurst Residents Lay Low

Flower bouquets at the 90t Street-Elmhurst Avenue station. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

Residents around Roosevelt Avenue in Elmhurst, Queens, are still taken aback by the homicide that shocked the area last Sunday afternoon, which involved alleged members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang. The daylight brawl on the platform of the 7 train’s 90th Street-Elmhurst Avenue station that ended in the death of a 20-year-old, probably a member of another gang, has neighbors “extremely worried.”

The fear is real. Although this Tuesday a strong police presence was surveilling the station, most commuters consulted by El Diario said they preferred “not to talk about those issues” – in part, said some who asked not to reveal their names or appear in pictures, because “you never know if they are tracking what you do or say.”

“This area is usually very safe and I always see police officers around here, but I really don’t know much about what happened,” said a Dominican youth, adding: “It is better to be cautious and stay out of trouble.”

Likewise, a Mexican tamales vendor said that, due to her job, “the best thing you can do is to stay neutral.” She arrives at the station at 2:00 a.m. every day to open her business. “There are always police officers but this happened during the daytime, and that’s the scariest part.” (…)

For Miriam Farfán, who moved from Peru 26 years ago and uses the station every day, the incident will not change her “routine.” She explained that, even after watching the video, she never doubted whether to go to work as usual. The only way to be safe in the area, she said, is to “remain neutral and to stay away from those types of people. The main thing for us is that we don’t go out at night and, when we do, we are accompanied.”

Beside her, Ana Ramírez, who arrived from her native Mexico 10 years ago, is also taking precautions, especially with her 6-year-old child in mind.

“Crime is currently rampant and that’s why we are always careful with where we go and at what times,” she said. “The people involved in those situations are seeking vengeance. In the video you can see how [the killers] didn’t touch anybody else, only that guy.”

(…) Council member Francisco Moya, who represents the area in the City Council, said that gang activity will not be tolerated.

“If intimidation is MS-13’s goal when its members resort to gun violence – as is reportedly the case in Sunday’s fatal shooting of a man on the 90th Street stop on the 7 train – or when they spray paint gang graffiti in our neighborhoods – as they did on my district office this weekend – they will fail in those endeavors. We are stronger than any senseless display of force.”

(…)

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