Teen killed at Queensbridge Houses

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Friends of a 19-year-old man shot to death on the grounds of Queensbridge Houses last week set up a makeshift memorial to him in a Woodside housing project as police searched for his killer.

Mark Torres, third murder victim at Queensbridge this year, was shot in the head in the early morning hours of July 5 and died the same day at Weill Cornell Medical Center, the NYPD said. His fellow residents at Woodside Houses mourned his murder with a display of candles and photos placed on the sidewalk near his home.

“He was a good kid. I really didn’t expect this,” said Mylasja Brown, 16, a friend and neighbor of Torres. “I knew him for seven years. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.”

Torres had turned 19 just two weeks earlier, friends said.

Police responded to the call of a man shot at 41-03 Vernon Blvd. at Queensbridge Houses at 1:22 a.m. and found Torres alive with a gunshot wound to his head. Torres was listed in critical condition when he arrived at Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan but died later in the day, police said. No arrests had been made in the murder as of Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Brown said she heard Torres was pronounced dead at 2:17 p.m. July 5. She said she and Torres had been at a July 4 barbecue at the Woodside Houses shortly before the shooting. It was not know what Torres was doing at Queensbridge.

“Everybody’s taking it hard,” Brown said.

Torres had an extensive arrest history for drugs and assault, police said.

Torres’ family members knew of his record, but said the 19-year-old man, who they referred to by the nickname of “Sukie,” was well loved by the Woodsbridge Houses community. Family and friends set up a large memorial with photos of Torres, cards, empty liquor bottles, blue and white candles, pink roses and a poster board where loved ones left notes.

“He had a lot of love. He was loved,” said a family member who asked not to be named. “He was important to a lot of people.”

Queensbridge residents said they knew little about details of the incident, with most saying they had been away for the holiday weekend.

“I know a lot of crazy stuff has been happening,” said 23-year-old resident Vanessa Rosado. “There’s been a lot of shootings.”

Rosado said Torres’ death was not far from the spot where Tara Webb, 27, was killed in March. Webb’s sister, Melanie, was charged in her murder, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Both women were residents of Queensbridge, the DA said.

In January, a Rochdale man, 39-year-old Clarence Williamson, was also found dead at Queensbridge Houses with a gunshot wound in his left shoulder. The NYPD said they were searching for 27-year-old Devon Smith, who police believe has ties to the incident, but had made no arrests.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 11:30 am, October 12, 2011
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