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College Point residents seek end to crime wave

In the wake of a string of violent crimes, College Point residents will meet with police and City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) later this month to weigh potential solutions to the community's mini crime wave.

The August murder of a 21-year-old woman who was stabbed in her home put an exclamation point on what was a violent month in the northern Queens community, according to Joseph Femenia, the College Point Civic Association president. Femenia said two nonfatal shootings and several robberies also occurred during the month, jarring residents of the typically quiet neighborhood.

Ebony Garcia was found bleeding to death on the sidewalk outside her home last week after being stabbed more than a dozen times. She died a short time later. Her boyfriend, 25-year-old Segundo Penafiel of 111-05 Roosevelt Ave. in Corona, was arrested days later while riding a bus near the Mexican border in Brownsville, Texas, following a joint investigation involving the NYPD, the U.S. Border Patrol and federal marshals, police said.

"We don't usually see this kind of stuff here," Femenia said. "A couple people have called me up to say they've never seen crime like this since they've lived here."

Crime will be the main topic of discussion when the College Point Civic Association convenes for its September meeting later this month. Avella and 109th Precinct Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Matthew Whelan are expected to attend the meeting, which will be held at the Poppenhusen Institute Sept. 24 at 7 p.m.

"The problem is the 109th Precinct is too big," Avella said. "I think really the precinct needs to be split in two so that the northern coast has their own precinct. This is an issue I've been championing well before I came into office."

College Point Civic Association member Michael Tkach, who works closely with the 109th Precinct through the civic, said he believes the police are doing everything they can.

"We had a purse-snatching on College Point Boulevard a few weeks ago. From the time the call went out to the time someone was arrested was eight minutes," Tkach said.

Tkach said the 109th Precinct, one of the largest in Queens, is suffering from a lack of resources.

"They've given us the help we needed when we ask for it, but they need more men," he said. "College Point has grown a hundredfold and you still only have one patrol car covering the area. You just need more than that."

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, ext. 138.

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