Law enforcement officials have arrested and indicted dozens of gang members after an investigation into over 20 shootings that injured about a half dozen innocent bystanders and left two people dead, including a 14-year-old boy in 2019.
They believe it will cut violence in several Queens neighborhoods, including Jamaica, Hollis, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens.
“Our investigation resulted in one of the largest gang takedowns in the history of Queens County,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, said.
Katz was joined by other law enforcement officials during a press conference Tuesday that detailed the takedown of dozens of criminals and the confiscation of about the same number of illegal guns off of city streets.
“Of the 33 defendants in this indictment, 18 pulled the trigger,” Katz said.
The takedown follows a three-year joint investigation that led to the indictments of 33 alleged gang members in three separate Southeast Queens street gangs.
“These gangs intended to commit murder and shoot opposing gang members based solely on their alliances and territorial disputes,” NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig, said.
Police say the defendants engaged in a blood feud dating back to 2019 that resulted in 23 separate shootings, including two that were fatal.
The shootings were allegedly fueled by rap videos and social media posts that boasted about violence.
Law enforcement officials displayed 34 guns they said were recovered in several arrests, including two ghost guns.
“Shooting opps, as they call it, is glorified with members actually keeping score and awarding points for shooting rivals. Almost like it’s a game,” NYPD Gun Violence Suppression Division Deputy Chief Jason Savino, said.
Five of the defendants are charged with murder as part of a 151-count indictment.
They include Sean Brown, who was arrested two years ago after law enforcement officials said he shot and killed 14-year-old Aamir Griffin in October of 2019.
Police say Griffin was playing basketball at the Baisley Park Houses in South Jamaica when Brown mistook him as a rival gang member and pulled the trigger.
The promising teen basketball player had just begun his freshman year at Benjamin Cardozo High School.
“Aamir is exactly what we aspire our youth to be and his life was suddenly haunted by gang members recklessly firing bullets with total disregard for anyone around them,” Savino said.
Brown is behind bars on Rikers Island awaiting trial. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
“Whether it’s a 14-year-old like Aamir Griffin playing basketball or a school teacher walking his dog, or a mother running out to buy milk for her children — all innocent victims by mindless gang violence,” Katz said.
Other charges include attempted murder, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment, conspiracy and assault.
“After a two month long, grand jury members of these gangs are finally facing consequences for their behavior,” Essig said.
The defendants range in age from 17 to 40. Of those defendants, 29 are in custody and police are still actively searching for the four others.