Myrtle Avenue is no longer Murder Avenue — and cops want to make sure it stays that way.
On Thursday night, the NYPD put up one of its SkyWatch camera towers at the corner of Myrtle and Carlton avenues, giving officers a birds-eye view of activities taking place within several blocks of the Ingersol Houses, where two people have been shot this month, most recently, a 23-year-old who was killed three days earlier.
Deputy Inspector Anthony Tasso of the 88th Precinct said that the tower was placed at the location to deter crime — and, indeed, some crime categories are up throughout the precinct this year, including robberies (up 29 percent) and assault (up 25 percent).
The SkyWatch tower has its limits, of course: it failed to prevent a drive-by shooting on Clinton Avenue between Gates and Greene avenues — though, granted, the incident was about 10 blocks away.
About an hour and a half after the tower was placed on Myrtle Avenue on Thursday, a 70-year-old man and a 30-year-old man were sprayed with bullets as they talked to each other by the corner.
Police said that five shots were fired, but the two men were not seriously injured.
The senior citizen was hit in the ankle, police said. The 30-year-old was struck in the buttocks. Sources said his wallet cushioned the blow.
The violence prompted Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) to demand that the 88th Precinct be named an Impact Zone, where more cops are sent in to patrol designated high crime areas.
“There have been five shooting victims in the last two weeks and it’s clear that the more resources are needed,” she said.
Back on Myrtle Avenue, the Skywatch Tower is being welcomed with open arms.
“I think it’s is a good thing,” said Brian Robinson, owner of Gnarly Vines Wines and Spirits, which is a block away from the NYPD observation post. “Security is a big concern around here, and this makes sure that people feel safe.”
Robinson said that he’s seen a “modest improvement” along Myrtle Avenue over the last year, even though there was a shooting at the corner a few months ago.
“You hear about shootings, but the police respond. … It seems adequate,” he said, though he added that nothing, not even high-tech towers, could replace the presence of a beat cop walking up and down Myrtle Avenue.
Speaking behind a sheet of bullet proof glass at Klevon Wines and Liquors across the street, employee Freddie Diaz said he’s already noticed an improvement on Myrtle Avenue ever since the SkyWatch Tower was parked there.
“A lot of people used to stand outside the store and just hang out,” he said. “They’re not there anymore.”
©2010 Community News Group
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