Every once in a while, even in New York, a crime is so horrific that it leaves an indelible mark on the psyche of an entire borough. The 1992 Christmas Night murder of Pamela Mascaro was such a crime.
Mrs. Mascaro was shot to death on the Grand Central Parkway as she rode in a car with her husband and 3-year-old daughter. She was the victim of senseless road rage, killed by a man who never knew her.
Last week, Bruce Warren pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the shooting. According to the district attorney, Warren became enraged after the car driven by Mascaro's husband cut him off. He pulled up alongside the family and fired off several shots at the driver, shattering the windows of the car.
In the morning that followed, an icy wave of vulnerability spread throughout Queens. Pamela Mascaro was every woman. Her husband every man. Everyone who ever honked their horn or made an obscene gesture to a reckless driver knew that the victim of this shooting could just as easily have been them.
Adding to the chill was the thought that the killer might never be caught. It was a crime committed in the dark of night with nothing but freak chance to connect the killer and his victims. That the killer, Bruce Warren, was finally caught is a tribute to the vigilance of the NYPD's Cold Case Squad. A former baggage handler at Kennedy Airport, Warren was walking out of prison after doing time on a burglary rap when he was arrested for the shooting.
His plea is small comfort to the Mascaro family. At least there has been a measure of justice and, hopefully, closure. Since the killing of Pamela Mascaro, an effort has been made to deal with the problem of road rage. Just last year, the NYPD began cracking down on aggressive, reckless drivers. Such drivers now risk the loss of their cars.
What we will never know is how many Bruce Warrens are driving the highways of New York like ticking time bombs. But the tragedy of the Mascaro family and the dangers of road rage in general are worth keeping in mind whenever one gets behind the wheel.
Someone in Auburndale knows the truth about the beatings of two young Hispanic brothers. Someone knows the names of the people responsible for what appears to have been a racist and nearly deadly assault. Those who know and don't come forward become partners in this hate crime.
That this should happen in Queens is shocking. That it should happen in the Flushing area is particularly disturbing. Flushing is the birthplace of religious tolerance. It is a community that is home to people of every ethnic background from nearly every nation on this earth.
The Flushing community must show that it will not tolerate angry mobs attacking people solely because of their race or ethnicity. We believe that the gang responsible for this crime stands alone. The attackers must be weeded out and punished.
In the same edition that we reported this attack, we also reported that a reward has been posted for arrest and conviction of the people responsible for littering Queens with hate stickers. The stickers appear to be the work of white supremacists. They target immigrants and members of ethnic minorities.
It remains unclear just how widespread the influence of the groups in Queens. Those who would spread the message of hate and intolerance, either through violence, graffiti or stickers deserve the scorn and condemnation of all decent people.
©2000 Community News Group
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