Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Is it Open "Shooting Season" On Successful Black Male Business Owners In Southeast Queens?

By Kamau Austin

What is going on in Southeast Queens?  Zanu Simpson, a barber shop owner in Hollis, Queens, was gunned down this morning in Springfield, Gardens.  This is just the latest in a rash of killings of young Black men who own businesses or are successful in the area.

This begs the question.   Are successful young Black male business owners being targeted by a crew or criminal element for armed robberies and deadly shootings?

There seems to be a similarity in some of these shootings where robbers attack them when they are in their cars.  Then they are shot usually sitting in their cars. 


Zanu Simpson pic from Facebook
I have mixed emotions about writing stories about death and mayhem in Southeast Queens, since that is primarily what other news outlets are doing primarily on the area?  One might think, reading the headlines of other news outlets, that not much good happens in Southeast Queens.  Of course this is far from the truth.

We focus covering positive and progressive things Southeast Queens residents are doing on an ongoing basis.  However, we are covering this in hope of bringing the community together and looking out for our neighbors.

Zanu Simpson, 32, a barber and entrepreneur with a barber shop called Strickly Skillz, who was gunned down last night.  It is a tragedy to people in the neighborhood because he was a young man doing positive things with his life and in the community.

Zanu, according to reports, did things like giving classes to up and coming barbers, giving school supplies to children in the area.

I am covering this story not just because it is a senseless murder to a person trying to do something constructive with his life.  He seems to have been well liked by his friends, loved ones, and community.  Perhaps this incident will shed light on a ongoing problem and hopefully bring the community together to make a change.

Mr. Simpson had worked hard to cultivate a celebrity clientele of rappers, performers, and sports stars like Future and Mobb Deep (according to reports and his social media pages). He seemed to be well liked and spoken well of in the community.      

According to the Times Ledger and other media sources "Police found the Jamaica resident unresponsive and unconscious at South Conduit and Lansing Avenue with bullet wounds to the head after responding to a 911 call.

Authorities said there was a gun at the scene.

EMS transported him to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police did not have any information on the circumstances surrounding the shooting." He was shot while sitting in his white BMW.

However, after doing research at the Queens online papers and other well known media sources I noticed a pattern of young men between the ages of 21 and 35 years being walked up to and shot while in their cars.  Also the assailants seem to be getting away.

And this alarming trend seems to be happening supposedly while crime statistics are going down in the area.  We will be looking into if any of these crimes have been solved at the Southeast Queens Scoop.

This is the 2nd young barbershop owner to be killed like this in less than 2 years.  I wonder if something is going on with a murderer, with a certain MO, or are their certain social dynamics leading to a pattern of these brutal and senseless killings?



Jerwaine Gorman pic from Twitter
This is just the latest killing of a young Southeast Queens business owner gunned down in their cars.  In some cases these are luxury sedans like a Mercedes Benz, BMW, or SUVs.

For instance, in May of 2015, "Jerwaine Gorman, 34, a board member of the South East Queens County Democrats, was fatally shot by a gunman who walked up to the vehicle and fired a single round at 167th St. and Linden Blvd. in South Jamaica around 12:30 p.m., police sources said." According to the Daily News.

Also a former NY Knicks player Cleanthony Early, was robbed and shot in the knee by three people who were finally arrested by federal ATF agents and NYPD cops.  This incident happened in another part of Queens but not too far away.

There was also the murder of Joneil Major, I just heard this week he was also another barbershop owner.  It was told to me that he owned a shop on Linden Blvd.  He was killed last year in March, in St. Albans, Queens.


Joneil Major Killed March 11th 2016
According to the Queens Chronicle on March 11th 2016, "NYPD, officers from the 113th Precinct responded to a 911 call reporting that a man had been shot at 8:47 p.m. They arrived at 193-06 Linden Blvd. to discover Joneil Major, 33, of 194-06 87 Road, suffering from a gunshot wound to his head. Major was unconscious and unresponsive at the time. EMS personnel transported him to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead."

There have also been a a few other shootings of young Black men in the area who have been business owners, sports stars or professionals, or even civic leaders. They are being shot at least once or twice a year with no update by police if anyone was brought to justice for their crimes.

This is a social issue and pattern we shouldn't ignore.  Successful Black men or men in the limelight should obviously take special precautions in the area.

These men are becoming targets for armed robberies by a criminal element in the area who seem to be able to kill young Black males and get away with it.

Whether the similarities in these shootings are coincidence, an inadvertent pattern, or a criminal element with an MO -  young men with money and successful profiles should be careful.  It may be a good idea for successful men or men in high cash flow businesses like successful barber shops in the area to:


> Watch out where they go at night and maybe get home earlier

> They should be aware of their surroundings and maybe take self defense courses

> If hanging out late take a less luxurious car that makes you a target if possible

> Avoid arguing on social media or debating with people in your area

> Delete faceless trolls on social media who berate you or are "haters"

> Also it is a good idea to pay attention to whether you are being followed

> Never use online apps that report their whereabouts on social media platforms and...

> Form business advocacy groups with other neighborhood entrepreneurs and lobby police and politicians to have a strong police presence around high cash flow businesses in shopping strips around our community.


Kamau Austin Publisher
Southeast Queens Scoop
Maybe law enforcement can also give some ideas on how to best avoid these types of robberies and walk-by killings.   

We are very saddened at the brutal murder of Zanu Simpson.  We hope his killer is apprehended as soon as possible.  Many people are also giving condolences to him and family on his Facebook page.

BTW here is the update on the funeral arrangements, donations, and status of his investigation click here.

We will be following these and other unsolved murders to bring you up to date on issues like these so you are aware of them.  Be careful and be safe.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).


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