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Is it Bay Ridge Syndrome?

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The recent violent crimes in Bay Ridge, and general lack of information available to the public about them, have caused some residents to call this reporter out.

“Enough with the Harry Potter stories,” one of my faithful readers told me. “Do your job and find out what is going on with all of this violence in my neighborho­od.”

Do my job? Alright, I’ll just put on my Magnum P.I. flora-colored shirt, run to the crime scene, and get to the bottom of the crime wave. (Cue “Murder She Wrote” theme song.)

But seriously, this isn’t easy. “The police aren’t saying much” didn’t sit well with my reader.

“Then what the hell IS your job?” he asked. “My neighbors are in the dark and people are beginning to think the worse.”

The man had a point. The recent wave of violent crimes has been followed with little of no information. But whose fault is it, the police for not keeping the public in the know, or the local media for not digging enough?

That question may be debatable, but the belief that the community is desperate for more information is unquestioned.

Residents have been on edge this summer about the two violent crimes only weeks apart.

First there was the masked intruder who, according to police, raped an off-duty police officer at knifepoint after breaking into her Brooklyn apartment on June 20.

Then popular real estate broker Magdy Okelly, 51, was found stabbed to death at his 100th Street home in the Fort Hamilton section of Bay Ridge on July 19.

No arrests have been made, and police have remained tight-lipped.

This silence has fed into that cyberspace bastion of free market rumor mongering — the local blog — which echoed the sentiments shared by my readers.

It’s been Yellow Hooker’s observation that bloggers have a tendency to be sensationalist an are sometimes uninformed. Still, more often than not, they have their finger on the pulse of the community vibe.

Last week the blogger (or citizen journalist as some prefer to be called) who wears the moniker “The Bay Ridge Rover” (http://thebayridgerover.blogspot.com) accurately described the current atmosphere of paranoia.

“Even more unsettling than the recent robbery-homicide of local businessman Okelly in his home is the lack of information surrounding it,” declared the Rover. “A public completely in the dark has ramped up speculation regarding the circumstances surrounding Okelly’s murder, and the still unsolved sexual assault of an off duty police officer — all of which took place less than a month apart.”

The “Rover” is right about the rumors. The void in information has opened the door to speculations of everything from organized crime, to roaming street gangs, to a prostitution ring.

This blogger’s final analysis may be a smudge Orwellian, but it does touch on the overall chatter still heard in local coffee shops. “Bay Ridge’s latest incident, in what’s been an unnerving series of violent crime, claims another victim — an informed community,” concluded the Rover.

The growing frustration over the lack of information is understandable, and no one gets it more than this reporter.

As for the question of who owns responsibility, Yellow Hooker’s believes that while both the police and the media can always do more to dig for truth and keep the public informed, there is something far worse than no information — the wrong information.

Sometimes prudence is the better route, and in the case of these two crimes, it appears that there just isn’t a lot of information immediately available (especially for public consumption as far as law enforcement is concerned.

In the meantime, residents are doing this community a service by holding local law enforcement, as well as this neighborhood reporter’s feet to the fire.

Matthew Lysiak is a regular contributor to The Brooklyn Paper

Kitchen Sink

The hot weather has brought out the critters. Raccoon sightings have been on the rise over the last two weeks with the hot weather, and loose garbage, to blame. …

A condo occupying the first and second floors of two attached buildings, at 8622 Parkway and 15 Bay 29th St., is on the market for $15 million. …

Nice wheels. A vintage Soviet army surplus Dnepr motorcycle outfitted with a sidecar has been recently been spotted (and photographed) parked outside of Skinflints, at the corner of 79th Street and Fifth Avenue by Bay Ridge’s newest blogger “Right in Bay Ridge”. …

Our pal Anna Yeo was just named to the Dean’s List at Binghamton University, congrats to you Anna.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

Ann Fonda from Bensonhurst says:
Do you have any information on the auction of Victory Memorial Hospital?
April 4, 2008, 10:33 am

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