Murder rocks Howard Beach

Debris from a black Volkswagen at the corner of Huron Street and 155th Avenue covers the street following a crash with another vehicle driven by a man who was shot and killed. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Howard Beach residents were awakened by gunshots early Saturday morning after a neighborhood man was found murdered and slumped over his steering wheel after smashing his car into another vehicle, police and neighbors said.

Police were still searching for suspects in the killing of 29-year-old Lahn Street resident Ronny Valdez.

Valdez was found around 4:40 a.m. Saturday inside his white Acura with multiple gunshot wounds to his torso, police said.

He was taken to Jamaica Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

Huron Street residents said they heard the gunshots and then the sound of Valdez’s engine revving as he lay dead in the driver’s seat with his foot on the gas pedal.

Some homeowners said they heard the shots and then a collision while others said they heard more gunshots after the Acura hit another vehicle.

Marie Casal’s black Volkswagen was totaled after the Acura slammed into it.

“At first, I thought a drunk driver hit my car,” she said Saturday afternoon as she inspected the damage. “I’m not even angry about it because I felt bad” Valdez is dead. “My car is totaled, the poor kid is gone. It’s just a shame. It’s unfortunate.”

Valdez lived in a basement apartment on Lahn Street, one block away from where he was killed.

A man who answered the door at Valdez’s address declined to comment.

A woman who lives near where Valdez was murdered said the whole block woke up to the gunshots.

“I heard the shots. It was like three or four. Then I heard a boom,” said the woman, who did not want to give her name, “Then it was just mass chaos. Everyone was shocked. It was like 4 o’clock in the morning. All the neighbors were out, it was loud.”

Another resident said there were “a lot of bullets,” but no signs of what motivated Valdez’s murder.

“No argument. None whatsoever. Just bullets,” the resident said.

Yet another resident said he “heard someone say, ‘I want you,’ or something like that. Then I heard a crash.”

Christina Santucci contributed reporting to this article.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Posted 1:09 am, December 8, 2011
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