Spate of muggings has them ‘Byrned’

for The Brooklyn Paper
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A gang of teens assaulted an 11-year-old on Monday — the latest in a string of after-school muggings in J.J. Byrne Park.

Police say that the hoods collared a pair of students from MS 51 — which is at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fourth Street — around 3:30 pm and asked for iPods and money.

One of the sixth graders managed to get away, but the vicious thugs kept on punching the other in the face.

“It’s not just bullies in the playground,” said Roger Hodge, the father of the victim. “It’s the sort of thing that could escalate.”

Indeed, it already has. Monday’s incident follows a similar, though less violent, attack on another student in the same park last week, Hodge said.

Students have long noticed the gang, which only recently turned violent — perhaps because no cops were around.

Police generally conduct afternoon patrols in J.J. Byrne Park — which some are now calling “Washington Park” — but the beat officer was redeployed on Monday due to an emergency, said Councilman Bill DeBlasio, himself an MS 51 parent.

“I am deeply concerned and I am working with the precinct commander to determine how we can get more patrol strength at MS 51 at the end of the day as needed,” said DeBlasio (D–Park Slope).

MS 51 principal Lenore Berner agreed that more patrols are needed, but isn’t telling students to stay out of the park, which is across the street from her school.

“It’s a public space and it should be available to students,” said Berner.

“I’m urging parents to reach out to the police so that there is more presence in the park.”

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