Outgoing 76th Police Precinct Commander Jeffrey Schiff said on Tuesday night that the recent fight and later, shots fired at Carroll Park was a gang-related incident that is part of a long-standing feud between rival kids from the Red Hook and Gowanus housing projects that sit on either end of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.
“It’s a historical rivalry,” Schiff said. “It’s been going on for many years.”
One group was playing basketball in the park, after school, and another group taunted them. A fight broke out.
Later, two guys pulled a gun on a rival from Gowanus, who was walking with his girlfriend, Schiff said.
“He lost face,” said the outgoing commander, who has been promoted to Inspector General and will be working in Ozone Park, Queens. The Gowanus boy then got his gun, and fired shots into the air while his enemies were playing basketball in the evening, Schiff said.
The level of violence is “very unusual. It shocked me,” Schiff said.
The police have a high level of pressure ongoing to keep down the violence, he said. An armed officer will stay at the park from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and plain clothes officers are also patrolling the area. Police are meeting with parents and the community, he said.
Despite the freak scare, “Carroll Park is the safest park. It is very safe. But this is New York City. Things do happen,” he said.
Drug wars are an issue in the projects, as groups and individuals battle for territory and power.
Carroll Gardens, and the 76th Precinct — which encompasses Red Hook, Cobble Hill, and parts of the Gowanus area — is still one of the safest precincts in the city. Crime went down this year over last and hit some historical lows, said the new 76 commander, Capt. Justin Lenz.
Lenz comes from the narcotics division in Manhattan.
“We have narcotics issues,” Schiff said. Lenz “is well versed in crime and violence. I’m leaving you in great hands.”
The 76th has only had one shooting this year.