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Refurbished playground site of violent shooting

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A shooting took place inside a refurbished Flatbush playground that’s only been open for a month — and concerned residents say they knew something violent was going to happen there.

Police say that a man was shot in the hand during an altercation at the Parkside Playground, which re-opened with great fanfare on Winthrop Avenue near Bedford Avenue after being closed for a year, on Saturday.

The unknown gunman shot at the 22-year-old at around 9 pm, shortly after the park’s dusk curfew, investigators say.

Cops are continuing their search for the gunman, but neighborhood parents say they had warned elected officials that a crime would occur inside he park, especially after a group of men had begun hanging out there regularly.

“It’s time local officials keep the space off limits to anyone breaking the law in any manner around the perimeter of the playground,” said resident and blogger Tim Thomas in a web post on the incident. “It makes no sense to me to create a safe outdoor recreation space for young people, then allow the worst sorts of ‘modeling’ behavior to take place. Drinking and smoking hooch might necessarily be tolerated to a certain degree on hot summer afternoons and nights, but not around youngsters.”

Thomas said he warned Councilman Mathieu Eugene (D–Flatbush) — who earmarked $2.45 million to renovate the park — about the loiterers and says he’s certain the shooting could have been avoided with regular neighborhood police patrols.

Now he’s calling on the councilman to do something about the problem.

“I urge you to use the power of your office to see that the 71st Precinct patrols the area every few hours and clear the entrances of loiterers,” said Thomas. “A child should be able to enter the playground without being forced to endure unruly and illegal activity.”

Councilman Eugene promised he was working with police to beef up security in the park.

“It is very unfortunate and awful that someone was recently shot inside the park,” he said. “I believe it our moral responsibility to come together not only to ensure our parks stay beautiful, but also to provide the maximum safety and wellbeing for everyone that uses the Parkside Playground.”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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