Sanders condemns violence after deli murder

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In the wake of last week’s murder of an innocent deli worker in Laurelton and the series of killings in southeast Queens over the summer, law enforcement and elected officials are urging residents to be more vigilant and work together to curb the violence.

City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) held a special meeting last Thursday not too far from the Lucky Deli at 220-23 Merrick Blvd., where Juan Torres was killed during a robbery Oct. 23, to come up with ideas of how to prevent similar circumstances.

Torres and his brother Felix gave the robber the money after he threatened them with a gun, but the apprehended suspect Shawn Forde opened fire on Jean Torres, 54, when he tried to help fight off the intruder, investigators said.

The store was the site of previous armed robberies, and Sanders said it has become an epidemic that no one should take lightly.

“It’s called the broken window theory,” Sanders told the people at the meeting, which included Torres’ family, members of the 105th Precinct, state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) and state Sen. Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica).

“When you let little crime take place, it grows.”

The councilman once again called for the creation of a new precinct solely dedicated to southeast Queens. The 105th Precinct has the largest geographic area to cover in the city and for years has had long response times for emergency calls.

Inspector Paul Piekarski, the commanding officer of the precinct, said the idea of a second precinct was good, but a weak city budget and low manpower in the NYPD meant the station house is a long way from becoming a reality.

Sanders also pushed deli owners to have their windows cleared of objects so criminals would be able to commit their crimes without being seen by pedestrians outside. He said he would look into creating a measure in City Hall that would mandate some open space in front of small shops.

“It also helps better [the look of] the community,” he said.

Ramon Murphy, the president of the Bodega Association of the United States, pushed for gun permits to be issued to deli owners to help them defend themselves.

Aside from the delis, the community has also seen a surge in killings related to large parties. Over the summer, there were four shootings linked to parties that attracted big crowds.

Piekarski urged residents not only to report any large gatherings, but also to be wary about renting out their properties to parties because the responsibility to control the gatherings may be too much.

“You as a homeowner should not be renting out your home for parties,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 6:17 pm, October 10, 2011
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