U.S. News

08.04.14

Bronx Gunman Shot His Friend, Didn’t Spill His Drink

A security camera caught the man in the red shirt and green cap firing on his pal—and then showed five men calmly stepping over the victim, recalling the infamous Kitty Genovese case.

The most shocking part of the security camera video is not where the gunman in a red polo shirt and green baseball cap empties his silver automatic pistol into his supposed friend.

Nor is it where the gunman then viciously pistol whips his victim repeatedly for having the temerity not to die.

Nor is it the way the gunman manages not to spill a drop of the drink in his other hand as he commits all this savagery.

The worst of it comes after the gunman delivers a final blow and departs this small grocery store on Webster Avenue in the Bronx.

Video screenshot

One by one, five other men calmly step over the wounded man with horrifying indifference, evidencing no concern at all except maybe not stepping in the blood.

The third of the five men does pause for a moment as the victim struggles to rise despite wounds to his head, chest, and both legs.

The victim then collapses and the third man just steps past him, as did the two men before, as do the two who come afterward.

Fifty years ago, the whole nation was shocked by reports that dozens of neighbors had done nothing on hearing the screams of Kitty Genovese as she was stabbed to death near her home in Queens.

The Bronx security camera video from early Saturday is in some ways more disturbing than that infamous, long-ago failure of strangers to act.

The owner of the grocery reports that everyone involved in this new horror—the gunman, the victim, and the five others—know each other.

“They are all friends,” the owner, Ali Abdulla, told The Daily Beast on Monday. “They spend all day being together.”

He could not immediately explain how friends could suddenly behave this way.

“Overnight hate,” he said.

He is originally from Yemen, and he added, “It does not just happen in the Middle East.”

Abdulla has been running the store for 23 years. He was at McDonald’s early Saturday, getting dinner for his two late-night workers, when one of them called to say there had been a shooting. He hurried back and learned that a group of young men had come in after filming a rap video out on Webster Avenue.

The young men had been drinking, and an argument erupted over who was better schooled in rap music. The dispute had quickly escalated from spitting to deafening gunfire as the workers looked on in terror.

No thanks to his supposed friends, the 37-year-old victim is expected to live. The store was open for business Monday, the security camera that captured the disturbing images just inside the front door, the linoleum floor scarred in at least three places by bullets.

“You have empty boxes?” a woman asked.

“Empty boxes, come back at 6 or 7,” the clerk behind the counter said.

The victim’s brother entered the store wearing a dark-blue shirt, gray shorts, and sunglasses, his hair in braids. He had good reason to believe that this was one place the gunman would not be found. He said nothing as he exited soon after.

The owner, Abdulla, stood outside, speaking about the local men of the street and sounding like a voice from the bad old days, before New York became the safest big city in America.

He still had his drink and his gun in the grocery when he allegedly answered spit with bullets.

 “Every one of them walk with his pistol,” Abdulla reported. “Everybody walk around with a gun in his waist.”

A few doors up Webster Avenue stood Brightside Academy, which had signs in its windows announcing sign-ups for the full-day pre-kindergarten program that was one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s main campaign issues. He seems well on the way to making good on his promise to make it available to all.

Another issue was stop and frisk, which the police had been using to keep shootings down. The idea was to deter men such as the guy in the red polo shirt and green baseball cap from carrying a gun that they might pull out in a fit of fury.

After an equally disturbing video showed a cop applying an apparently fatal chokehold to a man suspected of selling individual “loosie” cigarettes, some critics accused the NYPD of using petty quality-of-life violations as “the new stop and frisk.”

In truth, the police have continued to stop and frisk, but generally with a higher threshold for making the search, as happened Saturday night, when cops spotted a young man placing something in a female companion’s waistband as they approached him outside a known drug-dealing location. The something was allegedly a .25 caliber pistol. The young man proved to be the very person who had made the chokehold video.

As for petty crime enforcement, even some top NYPD commanders have a mistaken understanding of its original intent when it was implemented during the mid-1990s, along with the other policing strategies by which Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Maple transformed New York.

Maple often emphasized before his untimely death from cancer that the petty crime enforcement was not an outgrowth of the famous ”Broken Windows” theory proposed in 1982 by a pair of academics whom he called “snake oil salesmen.” That theory held that small signs of disorder foster serious crime.

Maple described his strategy as an outgrowth of the “breaking balls” theory long held by true crime experts, these being street cops. The idea was to catch criminals in petty violations with the hope that they either will be carrying a gun or will have an outstanding warrant for ignoring previous violations.

Had a cop seen the man in the red polo shirt with his drink out on Webster Avenue when they were just shooting the rap video, a public drinking summons and accompanying search might well have produced that silver pistol.

Had the cops still been pursuing stop and frisk as aggressively as before, the man might not have been carrying the gun in the first place.

But he still had his drink and his gun in the grocery when he allegedly answered spit with bullets.

On Monday, which happened to be the 13th anniversary of Maple’s death, the man was now being hunted by detectives, who were all but sure to catch him and charge him with the least petty of crimes.

The supposed friends who stepped over the grievously wounded man as he lay twitching and bleeding on the floor will face no charges at all.