QUEENS (PIX11) — Thirty-three alleged gang members were indicted — five of them on murder charges — in what Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said may be the largest takedown of its kind in the borough’s history.
The defendants, who range in age from 17 to 40, were arraigned on a 151-count indictment variously accusing them of murder, conspiracy, and a host of other charges, according to a Tuesday news release from Katz’s office.
“Whether it was a young man playing basketball with friends, a schoolteacher walking his dog, or a mother running out for milk for her children, we have seen law-abiding New Yorkers peacefully going about their business killed by mindless gang gun violence,” said Katz in a statement.
At the heart of the violence, the statement said, is a “blood feud” between three street gangs in southeast Queens: Money World, Local Trap Stars, and Never Forget Loyalty. The bloodshed was sparked by an April 2019 slashing, but exploded six months later with the murder of 14-year-old Aamir Griffin, prosecutors said.
Griffin was shooting hoops at the Baisley Park Houses on an October 2019 night when reputed Money World member Sean Brown allegedly opened fire on him with a .380 handgun, mistaking him for a rival, according to authorities. A round struck Griffin’s upper chest, piercing both lungs and killing the innocent teen.
The years since have seen more than 22 related shootings, one of them fatal, with a series of social media posts and rap videos fanning the flames, according to the release, which highlighted some of the most egregious acts of violence. They include shootings outside a high school, near a playground, and on a busy street, authorities said.
On New Year’s Eve 2020, Tymirh Bey-Foster allegedly shot Sean Vance eight times as he sat in a BMW on Sutphin Boulevard, killing the 26-year-old, prosecutors said. Bey-Foster and other reputed Money World members allegedly planned the murder after mistakenly believing that Vance was connected to the shooting of another Money World member earlier that day, officials said.
An August 2022 drive-by shooting at the Baisley Park Gardens housing complex wounded an innocent bystander and nearly injured a seven-year-old child, and a January 2023 shooting struck another uninvolved passerby walking to a deli, prosecutors said, offering other examples of the war’s unintended victims.
In addition to the alleged triggermen and other defendants, the sweep also takes 34 illegal guns off of city streets, officials said.
“The people of New York City are safer because of the meticulous investigation and sustained effort of the NYPD officers and Queens prosecutors involved in this important case,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell in a statement. “Our pledge is always to achieve justice for crime victims and to hold violent gang members who undermine public safety accountable for their crimes.”
The indictment was announced just over a month after another Queens takedown that snared 16 alleged gang members, stemming from the death of a mother who was struck by a stray bullet while out buying milk.