I followed with Commanding Officer Jesus Pintos at the 72nd precinct:
Ignacio Mendez, 18, and Carlos Flores Rojas, 21, had finished what witnesses have described as a late dinner at the Star Mexicana on 4th Ave at about 4am on Sunday morning. As they left, one male with his face partially covered approached them, yelled something, and proceeded to shoot. Mendez was shot in the head and neck. He died at the scene. Rojas was shot in the back was rushed to Lutheran Medical Center, where he died soon after. The police have not yet apprehended the shooter.
Pintos said that they had no proof that this shooting had a gang affiliation. It is the second double murder in Sunset Park in four weeks.
The first took place within Sunset Park on August 31st at 8:30pm, when a 16-year old approached and shot two other young men in the face. Both died.
Police arrested the shooter soon after the crime. Officer Pintos said that although the police believe these murders had a gang affiliation, they were not gang motivated. In other words, it may have come from a conflict between individuals who had gang ties, but no gang “ordered” these killings and they were not a manifestation of gang-on-gang violence.
Even with the recent spate of killing, the murder rate in Sunset Park has risen only slightly from last year, and is 61 percent lower than in 1993. Pintos the rates of most of seven major indicator crimes are still down compared to this time last year. That means fewer burglaries, robberies and assaults. (Interestingly, rape stats are up from last year, with ten rapes to date in the precinct as compared with six at this time in 2008.)
“We are putting a lot of resources” into these investigations, said Pintos, “and concentrating on crime fighting efforts.” In addition to increased patrols, the police plan to hold gang-awareness seminars for parents in the neighborhood.