Police are cracking down on gang-orchestrated violence on Staten Island as it seeks to quash what appears to be an escalating series of incidents involving those crimes in a particular neighborhood that is putting the public at risk.
In recent months, a gang member opened fire on a rival as he gets his hair cut inside a salon. A woman in her 60s was gunned down as she waited for a bus. Those New Brighton incidents haven't been isolated, police say.
For more than a year, the NYPD’s Staten Island Violent Crimes Squad has been building a case against 17 people they say are shooters and violent offenders in the area.
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"These perps are not soft 17 people. Twenty-six acts of gun violence in their history. The top eight have 200 collars between them," said Deputy Inspector Mark Molinari.
Their turf? Jersey Street, a corridor occupied by gangs which saw eight shootings in a four-month period in 2021, including a murder.
"We have to remember what we're doing here. People are getting shot -- unintended targets standing on bus stops. We cannot have this happen out here. We've got to target the violence and get it at its core and get it out," Molinari said.
Police executed raids Tuesday morning before sunrise, at 6 a.m. The officers made their first arrest within minutes.
Cops busted through the front door at the home of Arthur Williams, who police said is a gang member with 32 prior arrests, including multiple for shootings.
By 6:15 a.m., with the operation underway for about 15 minutes, police moved outside the home of Durail Miles, a.k.a. Shoota, who was not willing to come out of the home.
"He's definitely one of the leaders. He's got multiple drug sale charges on him involved with this operation. He has been arrested in the past with guns. He's been involved in shootings in the past," Molinari said.
In all, 15 men were charged in seven separate indictments with selling large quantities of drugs, which prosecutors said fueled violence on the streets.
"We’re charging conspiracy, we're charging for most sale and possession in the first degree, which is the highest level of narcotics charge. It's actually one of the only bail-eligible offenses at this point, possession and sale in the third and fourth degrees, again, conspiracy," said Michele Molfetta, the Narcotics Bureau Chief for Staten Island District Attorney's Office. "We're hoping you know that some of these guys stay off the street, and it'll reduce the violence in the area."
During the investigation, detectives recovered more than 100 grams of crack cocaine, 40 grams of cocaine, more than 3,100 ecstasy pills containing meth and 360 oxycodone pills.
"These young people are throwing their own lives away by choosing this life of street crime and selling drugs. And the drugs that they are selling because of fentanyl are also deadly to the people that are buying them," said Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon.