The Year in Crime: Murders Down, Robberies Up, Police in Spotlight

Jorge Arango (center) died after being stabbed repeatedly during an altercation on Jerome Avenue.

The year began remarkably well for police in the 52nd Precinct, which encompasses the Norwood News’ primary coverage area.

Early on in 2012, investigators went to great lengths, including a trip to North Carolina, to track down two suspects wanted for the murder of 59-year-old Bimal Chanda, a Bengladeshi man who was beaten to death in his University Heights apartment, apparently during an early morning robbery, in late October of 2011.

Inspector Joseph Dowling, the commander of the 52nd Precinct, vowed to track down the assailants and, eventually, did. One of the suspects was arrested in late January and the other was arrested in and extradited from North Carolina. The pair is currently awaiting trial.

The precinct didn’t record its first murder of 2012 until late May when 20-year-old Jorge Arango was brutally stabbed during an altercation caught on video at the corner of East Gun Hill Road and Jerome Avenue. Arango laid in a coma for two weeks before doctors declared him brain dead and he was taken off life support.
It later became clear that the charismatic Arango, said to be the “center” of his close-knit family, became embroiled in a love triangle gone horribly sour. The two suspects who were arrested for the crime are awaiting trial.

An increase in robberies plagued neighborhoods throughout the precinct in 2012. At the beginning of the year, Bedford Park was hit with a string of commercial robberies. The area also saw a series of brutal cell phone robberies during the late summer. Overall, robberies were up 3.1 percent from last year as of Dec. 9, the latest date crime statistics were published for the precinct.

Speaking of publishing crime statistics, the Norwood News successfully obtained neighborhood crime statistics (sector stats) from the 52nd Precinct for 2006 through 2011, which allowed us to publish overall crime statistics in each of precinct’s 15 sectors for the previous six years leading up to 2012.

Not surprisingly, Sector G — the area north of Fordham Road between the Grand Concourse and Webster Avenue — emerged as the undisputed king of crime in the precinct.

From 2006 to 2011, 1,528 crimes were committed in Sector G. That’s 11.5 percent of all the 13,303 crimes committed in the 52nd Precinct during that time and nearly 200 more crimes than Sector D, the next worst neighborhood (and 331 more crimes than in Sector C).

During those six years, more than one in every four of the precinct’s murders — 25 out of 94 (26.6 percent) — and one of every five rapes — 29 out of 140 (20.7 percent) — occurred in Sector G. The area also led the precinct in felony assaults, which include shootings and stabbings, with 353 (13.7 percent of the precinct’s assaults). Its next closest competitor was Sector B in University Heights, which had 80 fewer assaults during the same time period.

In the background of all this was deteriorating police-community relations in the Bronx and citywide, which was thrust into the spotlight by reports of excessive and unwarranted “stop and frisk” stops where minorities were overwhelmingly targeted.

The backlash caused the Bronx District Attorney’s office to announce it would stop prosecuting violations at city housing projects, where a lot of the stop and frisk stops occur, unless officers appeared before a grand jury. It’s also spurred lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The year ended with the mysterious murder of 46-year-old Gary Rodriguez on Decatur Avenue who was shot and killed just two blocks from his house on an early Sunday morning on Dec. 9. It marked the fourth murder of the year (compared to seven during the same time period last year) and the second on Decatur Avenue in Norwood in the previous two months.

The other murder, which happened just a block from Rodriguez’s Decatur Avenue home in mid-October, was said to be narcotics related.

The Murder Victims

• Jose Arango, 20. Stabbed to death, East Gun Hill Road and Jerome Avenue.
• Raphael Quashie, 39. Shot in the torso, East 197th Street and Bainbridge Avenue.
• Jesus Avando, 26. Shot in the head, 3347 Decatur Ave.
• Gary Rodriguez, 46. Shot in the chest, 3089 Decatur Ave.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Dec. 27, 2012-Jan. 9, 2013 print edition of the Norwood News. It’s one of series of articles recapping the top news stories of 2012.

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