Thursday, June 9, 2011
Five shot on Brooklyn's Brighton Beach boardwalk: Two critically injured when gunman fires on crowd
Five people were shot Thursday - at least two of them bystanders - after two groups clashed on a busy Brooklyn boardwalk, cops and witnesses said.
One man used an umbrella to crack another man in the head, as the fight erupted near Brighton 6th St. about 5:20 p.m. Then a gunman squeezed off about eight rounds into a crowd.
Onlookers scurried into nearby stores and restaurants, huddling in fear as the bullets flew near the oceanfront, witnesses said.
"It was chaotic," said a 48-year-old Queens woman who was visiting Brighton Beach. "We looked at the boardwalk and everyone was running north. It was hectic. It was panic."
An unidentified male and female were rushed to Coney Island Hospital, where they were in grave condition.
Their ages weren't immediately available. A wounded man was taken to the same hospital, but the extent of his injuries was not clear.
Two other men, one a 23-year-old with gunshot wounds to his ankle and elbow, were taken to Lutheran Medical Center. Both were expected to survive.
"Everybody was running and screaming," said Joe Sierra. "It was chaotic for five to 10 minutes."
Dozens of cops from Brooklyn and Staten Island swarmed the area, but it wasn't immediately clear what led to the bloodshed on the beach.
As the sun faded following a thunderstorm, police were walking shoulder to shoulder on the boardwalk, shining flashlights into the crevices of the pieces of lumber, looking for shell casings.
Sources said investigators were questioning a man that was taken into custody soon after the shooting. No one was arrested.
Tatiana Ortiz, 33, said she tried to shield her children from the flying bullets.
"I just jumped over my kids," she said. "We all ducked."
The mayhem unfolded after hundreds of kids enjoyed a day off from school for Brooklyn-Queens Day. Community leaders said trouble usually occurs in the area every year.
"They get into turf wars," said Pat Singer, president of the Brighton Neighborhood Association. "It happens every damn year. Feuds break out."
Singer said the neighborhood is used to vandals, but rarely does the trouble escalate to gunplay.
"A gun is pretty scary," she said. "It's really dangerous."
The shooting set off a whirlwind of activity on social media websites.
"Just watched some idiot kid let off 8 rounds into a crowded beach," read one tweet by @djslicknick. "Some people have no sense. I'm never going to Brighton Beach again."
"I saw the kid let off the shots," @djslicknick wrote in another tweet. "It was a madhouse I just got on the train."
"I'm tired of all this violence and innocent lives being taken," tweeted @prettyladyemmy. "We was all jus [sic] laughin then shots went off."