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Six murders in six weeks

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A staggering spree of violence in the western end of Coney Island has sparked six murders in six weeks and has put the police and the community on edge.

The 60th Precinct, which is responsible for protecting residents of Coney Island and Brighton Beach, has also investigated eight shootings since the beginning of the year, said officials.

Last year at this time, only one murder was being investigated and two shootings had been reported. Three murders were investigated during all of 2008, officials said.

Probably the most grisly of the killings took place on the night of April 26, when an unhinged livery cab driver captured, killed and hacked up a young woman inside his West 19th Street apartment.

The spree of violence also includes the stabbing death of 25−year−old Jose Castillo, a West 20th Street resident slain outside of his home on April 18, and the fatal knifing of Marcus Ali, a 19−year−old resident on Brighton 7th Street on April 13. He, too, was killed just a few steps from his home, according to investigators.

Another recent killing involved a shooting outside a party on Neptune Avenue and West 36th Street back on March 22 that took the life of an 18−year−old woman. Two men were wounded during the same shooting.

“Unfortunat­ely, we’ve had a rash of violence centered on the western edge of the precinct from West 24th Street and down Mermaid Avenue to West 37th Street,” said Deputy Inspector Robert Johnsen, adding that arrests have been made in the two most recent killings.

In both incidents, the victim knew the perpetrator, he said.

Of the other three murders, Johnsen said one is a known suspect who lives in the area and cops are out looking for him. The other two murders remain open, he said.

While many of the slayings occurred during fights or arguments, at least one may have been pre−meditated, police said.

It is possible that the violence could be connected to people who have recently been released from jail, Johnsen explained, adding that a similar spate of violence occurred in the command five years ago.

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