A Flushing man was arrested Tuesday in connection with the death of a man who was found shot Sunday morning in a playground on 40th Road near the Bland Houses, lying in a corner next to a honey-comb fence with newspapers strewn all around him.
Ashley Mendez, the victim, was discovered shortly after 9 a.m. Sunday morning in the childrens playground just yards from the Bland Houses on Roosevelt Avenue, said Jerry Varson, a police spokesman. Two days later, the police arrested Horace Lewis, 39, of Flushing, and charged him with manslaughter, said Officer Cheryl Cox, a police spokeswoman.
One police official at the scene said alcohol may have played a role in his shooting death. The official said Mendez, 38, had been dead for nearly eight hours and said it was unclear whether he was homeless.
One police official at the scene said, however, that alcohol may have played a role in his shooting death. The official said Mendez had been dead for nearly eight hours and it was unclear whether he was homeless.
The yellow-crime scene tape remained in place for more than three hours Sunday as nearly a dozen investigators studiously looked over Mendezs body as well as through the newspapers that lay next to him. Some children, hoping to make use of the jungle gyms near Mendezs body, were sent instead to the slides near a set of basketball and handball courts.
For the most part, teenagers continued to spar with one another in friendly basketball games Sunday morning, stealing occasional glances at the crime scene only when investigators opened the body bag to examine Mendez.
One high-ranking investigator said murders in the park, which stretches down 39th Avenue from Prince Street and abuts the Long Island Rail Road tracks, were uncommon, a comment with which some residents agreed.
That kind of stuff never happens here, said one man, who declined to give his name. This is a rainbow park where everyone gets along.
From the beginning of January through last week, Police Department figures show the overall crime rate in the 109th Precinct in Flushing nearly matched that of the same period last year. This year there had been only one murder in early March, when a man from Kentucky was stabbed to death inside a nightclub on Main Street. The police said the stabbing stemmed from an argument on Valentines Day. So far, four members of the American-Born-Chinese gang have been arrested and charged in connection with the mans death.
While criminal complaints from the beginning of January until last week decreased by six from 1,223 in the same period last year, the 109th Precinct reported rises in the number of rapes, felony assaults, burglaries and grand larcenies. The number of rapes increased to nine from three; felony assaults rose to 86 from 82; burglaries moved up to 327 from 260; and grand larcenies increased to 326 from 280. The number of auto thefts, a crime that was once endemic to Flushing, decreased to 353, from 452, however.
Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2001 Community News Group
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