A Corona block reeled from shock after two young men were shot to death on the sidewalk early Thursday morning in what neighbors suspected was a gang-related incident.
Edgar Fernandez, 19, who friends said lived in Jackson Heights, and Juan Gonzalez, 20, who police said was also from Jackson Heights, were standing in front of 109-29 54th Ave. at 12:53 a.m. when they were confronted by an unknown Hispanic male who opened fire on them, police said.
Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Fernandez was taken to New York Hospital Queens, where he died an hour later, police said.
Fernandez was the father of a 2-year-old boy and was expecting a second child with his girlfriend, Raquel Oyola, 21.
“He was responsible for his kids. He was a great guy,” she said at the scene. “But he had a lot of problems over here.”
Police were still searching for the shooter Thursday afternoon as friends of the victims put together a makeshift memorial around a fire hydrant near the crime scene.
Several friends at the site of the shooting who asked not to be named described Fernandez as a friendly, quiet young man who lived on the block for several years as a teenager before moving with his parents to Jackson Heights. He was attending a GED program at LaGuardia Community College, Oyola said.
Neighbors were not as familiar with Gonzalez.
“He was not in a gang, but he was not someone you would mess with,” a friend said. “A lot of people wanted his head.”
But neighbors also suspected the shooting may have had something to do with the Latin Kings gang, many of whose members live around nearby Martense Avenue.
“[Fernandez] hangs out with a lot of those dudes on the other side,” said one neighbor in his 50s, who only identified himself as “Mike.”
As detectives questioned well-wishers Thursday, residents said the attack was unprecedented on their block, which is just across 111th Street from Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
“This is such a quiet, residential place,” said neighbor Carol Diaz, 49, who has lived on the block for 30 years. “Everybody knows everybody. We’ve never had anything like this before.”
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cn
©2009 Community News Group
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