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Outcry over shooting - Greenpoint community reacts after nightclub inicident

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Reassurances from Captain Dennis Fulton that crime remains low in their Greenpoint community fell on deaf ears following a shooting at a local nightclub as fed-up residents demanded answers of the 94th Precinct.

The shooting occurred early last Friday morning near Club Exit, a popular weekend nightclub on Greenpoint Avenue.

At a community council meeting, residents and concerned citizens expressed their frustration and fear over what many claim amounts to nightlife run amok in the neighborhood.

The 20-year-old victim was struck in the calf by a stray bullet following an argument turned brawl outside the club. The unidentified woman was taken to Bellevue Hospital and listed in stable condition. She was attending a themed party thrown by a SUNY-Old Westbury student group.

Fulton said he understands the community’s reaction and tried to calm fears. “We’re going to take it seriously, it could have been anyone that got hurt that night,” he said.

An investigation is currently ongoing, with police refusing to say if any arrests had been made.

Louis Barricelli, the owner of Club Exit for over a decade, claims this shooting was an isolated incident.

“The assailant was not a customer,” Barricelli said. “The incident took place 100 yards from the club. We check for weapons and drugs when they enter.”

Barricelli said that he will discontinue special college themed nights on Thursdays following the shooting, something Fulton applauded as a concession to the community.

A larger than normal number attended the monthly meeting in the wake of the shooting, with many voicing their displeasure over nightlife spilling over into the quiet community. Residents claim that partygoers routinely blast their car stereos, urinate on local streets, rev their engines and decrease the quality of life in the neighborhood with their behavior.

Fulton stood before concerned community members for over an hour, and answered questions mostly related to the shooting. He claims “crime is low overall,” but remains concerned because there have been two shootings in the area this year.

According to Fulton, while the “neighborhood has grown exponentially in population, burglaries are down 16 percent and crime remains low.”

But many in attendance didn’t come to ask about theft. On their minds was the growing specter of violence in Greenpoint, a formerly quaint area, now transformed into a more urban neighborhood through population influx.

Fulton attempted to allay fears by repeating that crime remains low in the area and that he will monitor the situation closely to ensure the trend continues.

Ensuring that crime remains low is a major task as the area is changing rapidly from ethnic enclave to increasingly metropolitan neighborhood.

Citing statistics, Fulton noted that since the 2000 Census the population has grown by 20 percent.

“Every concern you have I will do my best to keep lowering crime,” he said.

Fulton made every effort to calm residents’ fears, repeating his desire to “be proactive” in combating criminal activity.”

This did very little to calm residents, as question after question addressed the nightlife problem in the neighborhood. Residents repeated their annoyance at noise levels, public intoxication and general lawlessness regularly occurring outside the club from Thursday night until Sunday morning. Club Exit regularly closes after midnight on those nights, and is open until 4 a.m on the weekends.

One Leonard Street resident said the activity begins around midnight on Thursday and includes cocaine and marijuana use in front of his home, which sits adjacent to the club.

Fulton said he understands residents’ concerns, and will “address the issue with extra officers.”

Vincent Caruso has owned a building on Leonard Street for two years and has witnessed the situation deteriorate. He agrees that noise levels are a major problem and said he is concerned about quality of life on his block. Also of concern to Caruso, many leaving Club Exit, or other nighttime spots are driving home intoxicated.

“What’s even scarier is you hear kids revving their engines when they leave the club, and they get in their car, turn the volume up real loud. This is on very quiet blocks,” he said.

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