More police coming in response to Albany gun violence; 15-year-old killed Monday

A large memorial covers the front of Mr. Sam Food Market at First and Quail streets in Albany on Tuesday.

A large memorial covers the front of Mr. Sam Food Market at First and Quail streets in Albany on Tuesday.

ALBANY – State police and other outside law enforcement agencies will be patrolling in the city following Albany’s third shooting homicide in five days, with the latest victim being a 15-year-old girl killed Monday night. She was the youngest victim to die in the recent spate of violence.

Police believe all three homicide victims have been unintended victims of indiscriminate shooting.

Police Chief Eric Hawkins said at a press conference Tuesday that he has spoken to both Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple and State Police Troop G Commander Major Christopher West, and those agencies will be deploying in the city, either on independent patrols or riding along with city police officers. The Albany office of the FBIl also will be involved.

There was a similar police surge in the city in response to gun violence in the summer of 2020 that seemed to have some impact. “There will be a significantly increased police presence,” Hawkins said.

Shortly after Hawkins’ announcement, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo made his own announcement about plans for state police to deploy a new community policing unit in the city. Cuomo said he was acting at the request  of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. The location of the latest fatal shooting is just over a block from the Governor’s Mansion.

“The recent surge of gun violence that has taken the lives of too many innocent bystanders and injured even more individuals in the city of Albany is deeply unsettling,” Cuomo said in a brief statement. “Our communities need to be safe places where New Yorkers can live, work and raise families without fear of senseless violence and crime.

“This effort will include increased patrols and deployment of the State Police Community Stabilization Unit – a new initiative designed to strategically address known issues, in partnership with the local police and the community, to prevent crime before it occurs.”

The latest homicide victim was Destiny Greene of Colonie, a Shaker High School student who was shot Monday night on Wilbur Street in the Mansion neighborhood. She died early Tuesday morning at Albany Memorial Hospital. Police said they were investigating a shots fired call in the area when Greene was brought into the hospital.

Greene was the ninth homicide victim in the city this year, and the third since Friday. Police said the investigation remains ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call the Albany Police Detective Division at 518-462-8039. Hawkins said leads are being pursued, but as of late Tuesday no arrests had been made.

Hawkins said Greene was in a vehicle with two adults and another teen, apparently having come to the area in response to a social media sale arrangement, when people in her vehicle got involved in a confrontation with two or three young men, and shots were fired.

“These sorts of incidents will not be tolerated,” Hawkins said.

The chief noted that arrests have been made in a number of the recent homicides, and he credited city detectives with doing a “great job.”

Sheehan, who also spoke at the press conference, said the ease with which young people can get guns is part of the problem. She said she has spoken to acting U.S. Attorney Antoinette Bacon about it, and asked that federal action be taken. “We have to come together as a community to get these guns off the street,” Sheehan said.

The North Colonie School District said Greene was a 10th-grade student, and counseling would be available to students and staff at Shaker High School. “We are profoundly saddened by this unspeakable tragedy,” said Superintendent Joseph Corr. “Our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers go out to Destiny’s family, friends and our community.”

The teen is the latest victim in a rash of violence. There were two homicides last Friday, including one in which five other people were wounded by a spray of gunfire at First and Quail streets. A Schenectady man, 21-year-old Jhajuan Sabb, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in connection with that incident, which claimed the life of a well-liked local convenience store worker Sharf “David” Addalim, a 35-year-old father.

None of the other five victims, all men in their 20s, suffered what police believe are life-threatening injuries.

The other Friday homicide took place about 6:30 p.m. on Henry Johnson Boulevard, taking the life of Lashon Turner, 39, of Albany. There have been no arrests.

Police don’t believe any of the incidents are related.

The nine homicides to date compare to 15 homicides for all of 2020 — enough deaths to set off alarm bells in City Hall. Sheehan last year said the lack of social services and community engagement programs due to social gathering restrictions during the pandemic was part of the problem. On Tuesday she again said lack of access to social services remains a problem in the most troubled areas.

Some of the recent shootings have taken place in broad daylight. The Quail and First streets shootings, at an intersection that has become notorious for its violence, happened at 2:30 p.m. on a weekday afternoon.

“One common theme that we’re seeing with these homicides is that they are involving young men who are not resolving conflicts in nonviolent, peaceful ways,” Hawkins said.

On Tuesday, Hawkins said one of the keys to reducing violence is to give young people in the city hope about their futures. “We’ve got to, as a community, give these young men and young women who may be on the fence hope,” he said.

Hawkins also said police have taken 40 guns off the street so far this year — ahead of the pace of last year. Police have been responding quickly to all the recent shooting incidents, he said, but they are also trying to be aware of not causing further harm to people in the community.

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