The Schenectady Police Department has increased patrols in Hamilton Hill following three shootings in the area in less than two weeks.
Police Lt. Mark McCracken said the number of police officers patrolling the area, particularly on Schenectady Street, has been increased to crack down on violent crime.
“We are aware of the incidents and we’re working on it,” McCracken said. “We are busier during the summers than the winters because you have more people out and about.”
Police Chief Brian Kilcullen said a long-term solution might be establishing a community center in the area. The center would provide local residents with a place to go, rather than standing outside on the streets.
“Them gathering might not be unlawful but we get enough complaints about what they’re doing,” Kilcullen said during a City Council committee meeting Monday evening. “The discussion was they have to be provided with an alternative. The activity has been on Schenectady and Van Voast for years.”
To view a detailed map of Hamilton Hill, click here.
Kilcullen said although crime overall in the city is down, the number of shootings are up in Schenectady.
“Our overall crime is down compared to our five-year average,” he said. “Violent crime is also down but our shootings specifically, where people are injured, are up.”
Kilcullen stressed that the Police Department doesn’t have enough officers. The department has 148 officers, down from 166 several years ago. The department welcomed 11 new officers last month.
“We’re operating with far fewer bodies than we ever had,” he said.
There have been three shootings on Schenectady Street since mid-July. Kusaan Tolliver, 18, was shot in the upper body near 528 Schenectady St. around 10 p.m. last Monday. He was transported to Ellis Hospital, where he died.
A 27-year-old man was shot multiple times in the chest early Sunday morning outside 532 Schenectady St. He was transported to Albany Medical Center and is in stable condition, according to police.
Another man in his 20s was shot in the buttocks near 525 Schenectady St. on July 23. He was taken to Albany Medical Center and is in stable condition, police said.
No arrests have been made in the three Schenectady Street shootings. It is unclear whether the incidents are related.
“We’re not going to be able to discuss [publicly] who is gunning for who or what the fact pattern may be,” McCracken said.
There have been four homicides in Schenectady this year. All four occurred in Hamilton Hill.
Lasean Gause, 19, was shot and killed on June 29 near the Zaid Food Market on Albany Street. Police said they don’t believe Gause was the intended target of the shooting. Three people were arrested on murder charges in connection with his death.
Marquise Solomon, 40, was shot June 18 on Swan Street. He died of his wounds four days later. No arrests have been made in his killing. On Feb. 16, Carlos Figueroa, 26, was robbed and shot dead. Four people were later charged in his killing.
“We have to do something,” Marva Isaacs, president of the Hamilton Hill Neighborhood Association, said Monday. “We need somebody to come in here and help us. It’s too much.”
Isaacs, in partnership with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, held a stop the violence rally on Schenectady Street on Friday. But she said more needs to be done.
“Something else has to happen,” she said. “The mayor has to establish a curfew, or call in the National Guard.”
Isaacs said she believes one factor affecting crime rates in the area is the high number of absentee landlords.
“Absentee landlords don’t live in the city and rent those houses out to anyone,” she said. “Those landlords don’t live here and don’t care who they get rent from.”
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is planning to host community forums in the next couple of weeks with the community and police, said local chapter president Rev. Anita Dix.
Earlier Monday, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said the investigations into the Schenectady Street shootings are ongoing and that police are following up on leads.
“If people have any information or belated information on this or other cases they should call the Police Department and work with them to ensure these people are brought to justice,” he said.
McCarthy said code enforcement is an ongoing effort in the area to hold landlords accountable for building maintenance and tenants.
“We are working to go after those individuals and hold them accountable,” he said. “At the same time, we’re working with bankers and community groups to create homeownership opportunities to get responsible landlords and homeowners into these buildings.”
Kilcullen said the shootings involve a small number of people in the area and that the community needs to work with police to make arrests.
“We can’t make an arrest without probable cause,” he said. “A lot of people in the community do know what happened but do not come forward. It’s a lifestyle they have chosen.”
City Councilman Vince Riggi said during the committee meeting that the recent spike in shootings reflects poorly on Schenectady as a whole.
“People think Schenectady is not safe,” he said. “We’re in a crisis. I don’t know what else to say. This is serious. This is as serious as it gets.”
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