Categorized | City, Crime & Justice

Drugs, Gangs, Blamed for N. Bronx Homicides

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Placards mark the scene of a shooting in Bedford Park. (Photo: Nathaniel Herz | City Beats)

A Bronx man was shot and killed early Saturday in the borough’s Bedford Park neighborhood, the third homicide in the New York Police Department’s 52nd Precinct in the last eight days.

Edwin Valdez, 21, died in transit to St. Barnabas hospital Saturday morning, after police found him at 4:30 a.m. near the corner of Bainbridge Avenue and 199th Street with a single gunshot wound near his left armpit.

No arrests have been made, and an investigation is ongoing.

The shooting had stemmed from an argument, but the motive remains unknown, police said.

Valdez had been arrested six times—most recently in October—on charges that included criminal possession of marijuana and possession of a weapon.

Drugs, gangs, and violence have plagued the area for years, but typically farther south, along Valentine Avenue and 194th Street. The block where the shooting took place lies between three apartment buildings and an all-girls Catholic high school, with a senior citizens home nearby.

“This is the best block in the neighborhood,” said Steve Bussell, the vice president of the 52nd Precinct’s Community Council, who lives in an apartment overlooking the scene of the shooting.

By mid-morning Saturday, officers had cordoned off the block, and yellow placards marked a trail of blood leading from the middle of the street to the sidewalk at the corner of Bainbridge Avenue and 198th Street.

Residents said that they had noticed an uptick in crime near Bainbridge Avenue in the past year, including a mugging in which a building superintendent had been beaten badly.

Police said they had not linked Saturday’s shooting with the two other recent homicides, which occurred several blocks away.

But the three incidents nearly doubled the number of homicides that had taken place in the precinct this year, according to police records, as the district’s most recent report shows that just four had been tallied through October 23rd.

On October 29, 59-year-old Bimal Chanda was beaten with a metal object in the stairwell of his apartment complex on 190th Street, police said. He died Wednesday morning at St. Barnabas hospital.

Chanda’s friends told the Daily News that he was in the process of moving his wife and 16-year-old daughter to Parkchester because of crime in his neighborhood.

On November 1, police found a 35-year-old black man with multiple stab wounds in the lobby of a building on Grand Street. The man, whose identity has not been released, was also pronounced dead at St. Barnabas Hospital.

Residents said that gangs—including the Crips, Bloods, and a group called Dominicans Don’t Play, or DDP—were responsible for most of the crime in the area.

While problems have been more common farther south, drugs and violence have crept north from 194th Street, according to Monsignor John Jenik, the pastor of Our Lady of Refuge Parish on 196th Street.

“Little by little, it started to move up,” he said. “Now it can pop up anywhere.”

The police “try the best with the resources they have,” but “their numbers are down,” Jenik said.

Violence has been driving people from the neighborhood, residents said.

“We’ve had a lot of people move out because of it,” said Tom Gardella, who has been the superintendent of a building one block away from the shooting for 28 years.

In response, his complex had recently installed security cameras, Gardella said.

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