Today’s news:

Murders double in 109th, but overall crime drops

The statistics, which were released Tuesday by the Police Department, offer a snapshot of serious crimes committed from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 2000 - including murder, rape, robbery, felonious assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny auto - for all city precincts.

Compared with the same period in 1999, overall crime in the 109th Precinct, which covers Flushing, Whitestone, College Point, Malba, Bay Terrace and Auburndale, fell on average by 11 percent last year, with four of the seven categories having reported drops, said Detective Madelyn Galindo, a police spokeswoman. The number of murders, grand larcenies and felony assaults, however, rose last year.

The number of murders increased to 12 from six in 1999, the police said, and the number of felony assaults climbed to 365 from 329 two years ago. In addition, the number of grand larcenies increased to 1,083 in 2000, up from 916 the prior year.

But the number of reported auto thefts, a crime that once ran rampant in Queens, decreased to 1,262 last year from 1,651 in the preceding year. The number of rapes dropped to 16 from 18, and the number of robberies declined to 432 from 479. The number of burglaries decreased to 935, down from 1,162.

Wanda Beck Antosh, the president of the 109th Precinct Community Council, attributed the drop to a strong sense of community in the neighborhoods covered by the precinct.

"I find that at this point people are looking out towards the other neighbor," she said. "It used to be me-me at one time."

At least two headline-grabbing murders affected the increase in the murder rate for the 109th Precinct this year. In May, seven workers at the former Wendy's on Main Street in Flushing were preparing to close when two men entered the restaurant and announced a robbery, the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said. The workers were led into the basement and then into a refrigerator, the district attorney said. A plastic bag placed over each of their heads, the seven workers were bound and gagged, then shot execution-style, the district attorney said. Five of them died.

And on Sept. 23, a Korean-American immigrant, returning in the early-morning hours from work in Manhattan, was brutally attacked by two teenagers in the lobby of his Flushing apartment. The two teenagers were caught on a grainy videotape, the police said, which showed one of them raising aloft a cobblestone and smashing the man, Jong Rin Lee, 43, in the head. Lee was conscious when he was taken to the hospital but died several days later. The police were still searching for the assailants.

Antosh said she thought the 109th Precinct was understaffed and it did not receive an equitable share of resources to handle the ever-increasing population of the northeast Queens communities.

"We need more manpower," she said. "It's a very diversified precinct and it has grown by leaps and bounds, but our police force hasn't kept up with it. I think Queens has been overlooked because it has been a very passive community."

Inspector James Waters, the commander of the 109th Precinct, did not return a phone call seeking comment by Tuesday night.

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