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New reward for Empire gunman - Rink violence sparks outrage

Madonna laced up her skates there. Cher and John F. Kennedy, Jr. also spent boogie nights rolling around its smooth hardwood floor. Now the last large-scale roller rink in the city and birthplace of roller disco is offering a $2,000 reward for a shooting outside the Empire Roller Skating Center, 200 Empire Boulevard. “This shooting is an isolated incident that will not be tolerated,” said Empire Roller Skating Center owner Michael Feiger. “Therefore, a $2,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to an arrest and conviction.” Police said that a gunman wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt shot two men and two women at about 1 a.m., Jan. 3, outside of the club during an adult skate. Two of the victims suffered gunshots wounds to the legs. One was shot in the foot and one was shot in the abdomen. None of the injuries is considered life-threatening. Feiger said the rink has well-established rules that are followed, along with tight security and a no-alcohol policy. It was the first incident of any kind during an adult skating session, he said, adding that the skating rink employs about 50 local people and has wide support in the Crown Heights community and the greater city. Among these supporters is City Councilmember Letitia James. “This is a family entertainment center that continues to be valued as a recreational gathering place,” said James. “We need to provide a safe corridor and do all that we can to provide affordable and constructive activities for the community,” she added. The 30,000-square-foot rink first opened in the late thirties after being converted from a parking garage for the Brooklyn Dodgers. The roller rink became famous across the nation during the 1970s, and in the 80s the aforementioned celebrities skated there, said Feiger. Currently, a diverse group of youth, families and adults come to practice the art of roller skating across the rink’s smooth wooden floor. Tywan Anthony, 23, said he attends Empire Roller Skating Center to unwind and listen to music. “I first came to Empire as a child and I’ve been skating twice a week consistently for the past two years,” said Anthony. “My skate buddies are an extended family. I’ve never experienced a negative incident,” he added. Anyone with information about the shooting is encouraged to call the Crime Stopper hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, and/or the Empire Roller Skating Center at (718) 462-1400.

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