Neighbors near a bar on the corner of 85th Street and Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park blamed the shooting death of a 27-year-old father Sunday outside on a pattern of weekend drinking, fighting, loud music and screaming that has riled residents.
Hector Esperon, of 1414 Jefferson Ave. in West Islip, L.I. was shot numerous times outside Kiki's Bar at 85-01 Rockaway Blvd. by two unknown men after the trio were involved in an argument, police said. There have been no arrests made in the ongoing investigation, police said.
"If they did not have a bar there, that would not have happened," said Thomas Zembruski, a six-year resident of 85th Street. Zembruski said every weekend, patrons of the bar stand outside blasting music, screaming and fighting, which he blamed as the cause for Sunday night's shooting.
Esperon, a father of one, was found by authorities at 4:10 a.m. and was pronounced dead on arrival at Jamaica Hospital, police said. Cops said two suspects fled the scene immediately after the shooting.
Another neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous but lives several houses down from Kiki's, said a group of homeowners in the area made several unanswered pleas to the 102nd Precinct to monitor the bar's activities. He claimed many of the patrons at the bar are underage drinkers.
"We knew something like this was going to happen, we just didn't know when," he said. "We don't really want a bar there. This is a residential neighborhood."
Several calls placed to the 102nd Precinct Tuesday were not returned.
The neighbor, who bought his current house less than a year ago but had lived in the neighborhood before, said a similar murder took place in the area several years ago. He said because of that incident, residents tried but failed to block the property builder's proposal to introduce another bar at the same location.
The man also blamed Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his push for a ban on smoking inside bars and restaurants for pushing Kiki's patrons outside and into the Ozone Park neighborhood. He said the policy forces people outside and leads to trouble that otherwise could have been avoided if people were allowed to smoke inside.
"We're not happy with Bloomberg," said the man, who was told by the builder of Kiki's that no alcohol was going to be served in the facility. "Basically, we're sick of that place across the street."
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156
©2003 Community News Group
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