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Jamaica teen shot dead in his apartment complex

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An 18-year-old man was shot to death in the stairwell of an apartment building on Hillside Avenue in the middle of the day Friday, police said.

Chris Scott, 18, of was shot to death at 1:30 p.m. inside the Hillside House apartment building at 87-40 165th St. and Hillside Avenue where he lived, police said.

The victim was shot once in the back on the third-floor stairwell of the six-story, middle-class apartment building. Police were still searching for the shooter at presstime Tuesday.

Al Wyatt, who has been Hillside House's superintendent for 27 years, discovered the body after residents told him they had heard gun shots.

"I recognized him right away," Wyatt said of the victim. "He is in and out of the building every day."

Wyatt was in the basement at the time of the shooting, so he did not hear anything, he said. He took the elevator up to apartment 2L to do some maintenance work.

When he arrived at that apartment, the residents told him they had just heard five gunshots. Wyatt climbed the stairs to the third floor, where the victim was lying on the landing.

The victim was bleeding from his stomach and Wyatt went to call for help, he said. By the time he reached the elevator, the police had arrived, he said.

"He was a loner," Wyatt said of Scott.

Police did not comment on possible motives for the killing.

Shootings are not commonplace at Hillside House. "We haven't even had a pocketbook snatched in this building," Wyatt said. "It is not the best building, but it is not the worst, either."

Rent for a studio apartment in Hillside House is about $700 to $850 a month, Wyatt said.

"I'm a nervous wreck," Wyatt said about an hour after the shooting. "I have a lot of elder tenants and I protect them like they are my own mother and father.

"I'm shocked," he said and then paused to think. "Maybe I'm not shocked. Maybe I've been expecting this."

Reactions to the shooting from residents of the building and others in the neighborhood varied.

Some were shocked such a crime would occur in what they thought was a relatively safe area, but others were not surprised someone was killed in a building which they said is full of drug-dealing and other criminal activity.

The 107th Precinct, which covers the area in which Hillside House is located, declined to comment on crime statistics for the apartment house.

Tim Hall has lived in the building for two years.

"It is not a safe building, not at all," he said. "I've seen police action [there] - for what, I don't know."

The fact that someone was shot to death "doesn't surprise me," Hall said, but having the incident occur in the middle of the day was shocking.

But Curtis Taylor, who has lived on the second floor for two years, said the building is pretty quiet and there have not been any problems before.

He was not in the building at the time of the shooting and he said he was not frightened that someone was killed there.

The police showed him a photo of the victim, whose face was familiar to him.

"He was someone who was in and out of the building," Taylor said of the murder victim.

Two people who live nearby, Francisco Beleon and a young woman who did not want her name used, stood across the street from the Hillside House shortly after the murder and argued about the neighborhood's safety.

"I come home from work at 1 a.m. and I never have any problems," the young woman said. But Beleon, who has lived in the area for more than 10 years, said the building is full of prostitution and drugs.

"They always come and raid the building," Beleon said of the police. "There are a lot of bad people here."

There have not been any shootings in the past, but police come by looking for drug dealers, Beleon said of Hillside House. He said he was not surprised that someone was shot to death.

"When it's too crowded with bad people, something is going to happen," Beleon said.

At the gas station across the street, at the corner of 165th Street and Hillside Avenue, one of the attendants said Hillside House is inhabited by "garbage people."

"Drugs, stealing, everything is in there," the gas station worker said. He did not want to be identified by name.

A cab driver named Mohammed who came into the gas station said he avoids picking people up at Hillside House.

"This is something you can expect happens every day there," Mohammed said of the shooting.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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