Schenectady County

Fatal shooting brings opposing calls for community response

Messages on a telephone pole on Fifth Street in Schenectady are part of makeshift memorial to 23-yea

“We are done loosing our loved ones over violence. It needs to STOP!” reads one sign taped to a telephone pole.

“Pass the law so people who kill (people, kids, teens) in Schenectady should be sentenced to death!” reads a second.

“Only way change is if we stick together & make it happen! Make it start now!” reads a third.

These messages on Fifth Street are part of makeshift memorial to 23-year-old Rashad Robinson, who was shot to death across the street early Saturday, in front of Joe’s Bar and Grill. Two other people were injured in the shooting, which is prompting a call to action in the community.

Local NAACP officials are in talks with the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office and the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Office to start a gun buyback program similar to one that has gotten many weapons off the street in Albany.

“We’re still hammering out the details,” the Rev. Ted Ward, president of the Schenectady branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Thursday. “We’re hoping to keep it anonymous. That’s our goal, so individuals will not be prosecuted for weapons that are handed in — particularly if they are used in a crime.”

Ward said he hoped to have meetings to develop the program within the next couple of weeks. In addition, his organization is trying to create other programs to build young men’s self-esteem and convince them that this kind of violence is not all there is to life.

“They’ve got to have some dreams and goals and aspirations,” Ward said.

Those positive messages from Ward and the memorial are a counterpoint to the calls for violence like “War Time Baby” and “Fire in the [expletive] hole” at another memorial to Robinson that has sprung up at the intersection of Albany and Hulett streets. That is also the site where Robinson’s 31-year-old brother, William H. Robinson, is accused of shooting Charles Taylor in the calf through the door of his car shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday.

Police have not determined Robinson’s motive or whether it is connected to the killing of his brother. The investigation is continuing, but there were no new developments in the case Thursday, police said.

The New York State Liquor Authority is also looking into Saturday’s shooting. “We have reached out to the police department, and we are investigating the most recent incident to see if there are any violations,” said spokesman Bill Crowley.

Crowley said Joe’s Bar was issued a two-year liquor license March 21 and does not have any current violations of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.

What is being described as a “home-going” celebration for Robinson will be held today at Refreshing Springs Church of God In Christ, 327 Georgietta Dix Blvd. Calling hours will start at 10 a.m. before the celebration. Robinson will be buried in Park View Cemetery.

Last weekend’s incidents were just the latest in a series of shootings in the city:

• On Oct. 7, an 18-year-old walked into Ellis Hospital with a gunshot wound to his leg.

• On Oct. 9, two people were injured when multiple shots were fired in the area of Close Street around 12:10 p.m. One man showed up at Ellis Hospital’s McClellan Campus with a gunshot wound to the neck, and a second victim was later located after crashing his car into a fence near Union College in the area of Union Street and Union Avenue, according to police.

• On Nov 5, a man was shot in the upper back and a woman shot in the arm at Club Reign at 605 Union St.

• Also wounded in the incident that left Rashad Robinson dead were George Lloyd, 23, of Schenectady and Shawn Coons, 28, of Rotterdam.

“Some of it is apparently related; some of it’s not,” said city police spokesman Lt. Mark McCracken. “Unfortunately, we seem to be hitting a spurt. I’m not sure if there’s a common thread behind all of it.”

The rise in violence worries Judy Atchinson, director of QUEST, a nonprofit group that helps at-risk children in Schenectady.

“There are T-shirts or sweatshirts with the young man’s face on and saying ‘This is War’ or ‘It’s War Time.’ ”

Atchinson reiterated her longstanding view that there are too many cheap, illegal guns on the street.

“Once these kids get guns, they think they can shoot them,” she said. “They can’t hit the broad side of a barn, most of them.”

Atchinson said more community policing is needed with extra foot patrols. “I’ve watched [drug] deals go down right in front of me.”

She said authorities are not doing enough to crack down on serious code violations, squatters in buildings and other assorted crime.

“All this contributes to kids feeling they can do whatever they want,” she said. “I can see the guns in their waistbands as they ride by on their bicycles.”

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