A shooting in the Cypress Hills section of Brooklyn proved deadly for a suspected carjacker and marked the neighborhood’s third fatal shooting in twice as many weeks. Residents are concerned that a disturbing pattern is emerging.
An off-duty police officer shot and killed Christopher Kissane, 22, of Queens, on Hemlock Street within a block of Cypress Hills Cemetery at 4:15 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26.
Minutes before, the suspect crashed a stolen burgundy minivan into a divider and pole at Cypress Hills Street and Jamaica Avenue, then fled on foot wearing a mask and carrying a .22 caliber revolver, police said. The off-duty lieutenant, who was not identified by police, pursued Kissane in his car, until the suspect shot at him. The officer then fired the bullet that killed the young suspected carjacker, who was pronounced dead on arrival at Brookdale Hospital. Kissane had stolen the minivan in Queens just 15 minutes before the crash, police said.
Thursday’s incident is the third fatal shooting in the area in the last six weeks. Three miles south, police shot Duane Brown, 27, a father of one, outside his home on Jan. 13 after police said he had failed to disarm. Two and a half blocks from the Hemlock Street crime scene, Officer Peter Figoski was killed while responding to a burglary on Dec. 12. He was the first police officer fatally shot by a suspect since 2007.
Some residents in the neighborhood are worried that a trend is developing.
“Lately it got bad,” said Lino Bellantuono, 56, a mechanic at Pacific Energy Corp. Thursday’s shooting happened just a block and a half away from his work. “It was never, never, never like this,” he said.
The large glass windows of Primary School No. 7 look out onto the street where Kissane was killed. Parents of children in the school also expressed concern. “Maybe we need more police around here,” said Joany Paulina, 36, on the afternoon of the shooting as she picked up her two girls. “Because…now it’s not safe.”
Others think the fatal shootings were a fluke. Rafael Espinal, the local New York State Assembly member, whose offices are on the same block, doesn’t see a violent trend developing in his district, even though he acknowledges that petty crime is on the rise throughout the city.
“It’s sad. I wish it hadn’t happened,” he said. “It’s not something that has to do with the community. It happened by chance.”
Espinal noted that the suspects have all been from different boroughs—the man who killed the New York police officer was from Coney Island, and Kissane was from Queens. “I really do believe it happened to be a stroke of bad luck,” he said.
While auto theft has steadily declined for the past 20 years, the 75th precinct, which includes Cypress Hills, Starrett City and City Line areas, had among the highest auto theft rates in the city with 320 reports of grand larceny auto in 2011. The precinct also had the city’s highest crime rate in 2010 and the highest violent crime rate in 2011.
Local police and government representatives plan to hold a public safety meeting for residents to voice concerns on Feb. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Cypress Hills – Fulton St. Senior Center.