New York

Belmont Residents Say Neighborhood Is Plagued By Gang Violence

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Krystal Sicles visited the growing memorial for 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz outside a Bronx deli for the third time Wednesday.

“For him to be 15 years old and not experience what its like to be an adult, hurts my heart,” she told CBS2s John Dias.

The murder suspects are believed to be part of a gang called the Trinitarios. Neighbors say all sort of gangs have taken over the Belmont section in recent years, marking the area with graffiti.

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“It brings down the community and it allows gangs to say that we are in this turf, this turf is ours or this community belongs to us,” said Sydney Flores.

The community activist wants to clean up the marks and pressure the NYPD to step it up. He doesnt want gang violence to win.

“Enforce graffiti summonses to building owners, property owners,” Flores said.

Others say police should focus more on their street presence.

They could have more people be alert, you understand?” said one woman.

“I would say for the past two years, its just gotten steadily worse, in terms of violence,” a man added.

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But Rev. Carlos Baez says he believes its the southern part of the neighborhood that sees the most violence, right by where the boy was killed.

“I thought it subsided, but it came back,” he said.

The reverend is the clergy liaison to the 46th Precinct, which patrols all of Belmont. He says he thinks the northern section of the community, by Arthur Avenue and the Bronx Zoo, is safer.

“Every other community on the other side has police presence and everything else, but I think we need them here also,” said Baez.

Fordham University is right by Arthur Avenue, but the campus has its own tight security.

“I dont see why it should be divided as a the community,” Baez said. “The community has to be together.”

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The NYPD promises some sort of crackdown.

“There are more boots on the ground,” said NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea. “I said it the other day, the world is going to get very small for the Trinitarios very soon.”

The community hopes it comes sooner than later.

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