Tag Archives: Baisley Park Houses

Russell Simmons joins march to reclaim Queens streets for peace


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Residents and leaders in southeast Queens — joined by a famous native son — marched recently to return peace to their increasingly violence-filled streets.

The Sunday, August 19 rally, organized by The Peacekeepers Global Initiative, drew hundreds of locals bothered by the outbreak of shootings the area has witnessed — as well as parents who have buried children due to the violence.

“We need to make sure that we make our community a safe and decent place to live,” said Dennis Muhammed, founder of The Peacekeepers.

Murders are up 29 percent in Queens South this year, according to CompStat.

Joining the march was Queens native Russell Simmons, who said he was inspired by the neighborhood’s turnout.

“We have to give some sort of hope to the people in the community,” the Def Jam co-founder said. “Young kids in the hood don’t understand that there’s a lot of potential in them and when they see that we care, it matters.”

Parents of children lost to guns marched hand-in-hand with Simmons before speaking to the crowd in the Baisley Park Houses.

“My son was a good kid, he played ball, didn’t bother anybody, he was a momma’s boy. He turned 19 February 2; they murdered him March 2,” Shanta Merritt, mother of Darryl Adams, who was killed in Jamaica, said between tears. “I’m going to do anything and everything that I can to be a voice for my son. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else.”

As the march moved from Sutphin Boulevard and 111th Avenue to the Baisley Houses, residents came out, with some joining the march and the chants to reclaim the streets for peace.

“It’s us that’s going to protect our community, it’s us that’s going to change what’s happening in our communities, it’s only us working together that can make a difference in what going on in our communities,” said Erica Ford, founder of LIFE Camp, a violence prevention advocacy group.

The community has been calling for something to be done that will help end the violence, but leaders agreed the rally needed to be only the beginning of the change.

“We do have a responsibility and that responsibility is to make sure this is not just an event, a one-time affair,” said Congressmember Gregory Meeks. “We need to be back out here when there’s no cameras, when there’s no attention.”

Man kills girlfriend’s son, boards Q111 and shoots two more


| smosco@queenscourier.com

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Holiday cheer turned to terrified screams as violence erupted in Jamaica on Friday, December 2.

Damel Burton, 34, allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend’s son, 18-year-old Keith Murrell, in an apartment the three shared on the second floor of the Baisley Park Houses. Burton then boarded the Q111 bus at the Parsons-Archer terminal, where be shot and killed passenger Marvin Gilkes, 36, and injured a second passenger, Jajuan Lipsey, 29.

Gilkes was pronounced dead at the scene while Lipsey’s injuries are not life-threatening.

After he was shot, Murrell reportedly leaped from his window to a grassy area below and was helped across the street where he collapsed. The 18-year-old was later pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital.

Friends and family described Murrell as a basketball-loving role model who wanted to be a mechanic. All of that was erased when the tragic teen was shot in the chest by ex-con Burton.

“I can’t seem to grasp this sad situation, it’s just so sad and senseless to me,” said Murrell’s cousin, Sandy Thickness, in a Facebook post. “I love my family and we all miss our cousin Keith. My family just took a great loss.”

Burton reportedly used the Q111 to get away from the scene, but became agitated when he thought passengers on the bus were talking about him.

District Attorney Richard A. Brown said that Burton has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree attempted murder following the shooting rampage.

“The defendant is accused of the cold-blooded shooting death of one young man, followed by the alleged shooting of two more people on a city bus – leaving one of them dead and the other seriously injured,” the district attorney said. “These shootings are particularly disturbing for having exploded during an otherwise routine afternoon bus ride filled with shoppers, students and ordinary people returning from work. Violence such as this will not be tolerated, especially aboard public transportation.”

Burton, who faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted, was quickly captured by police officers a block away from the bus shooting, still carrying the alleged murder weapon.

Released on parole in August of 2010 after serving seven years for attempted robbery, Burton has six prior arrests and served a year in prison in 2000 for drug dealing and weapon possession.