After the shooting of a 16-year-old girl in Mineola the night of May 27 at approximately 9:47 p.m., five young men ranging between the ages of 17 and 24 have been arrested and charged with Conspiracy 4th Degree.
The 3:37 a.m. arrest of the young men; one from Westbury, one from New Castle and three from Mineola; came about as an indirect result of a confrontation between members of rival gangs earlier in the evening.
Det. Sgt. Joseph Haeselin of the Third Squad explained that during the course of last Wednesday night into last Thursday morning there were three incidents involving members of the gangs Las Nietas and MS-13.
The first incident took place outside of the laundromat located in the mall on the north side of Jericho Turnpike between Nassau Boulevard and Pennsylvania Avenue at around 9:30 p.m.
Six or seven individuals identified as members of Las Nietas, a gang not normally known to operate in the Mineola area, threatened a young man identified as a member of MS-13, a gang that has been linked to recent area crimes including the murder of a young man on Willis Avenue.
The confrontation came to a halt when a 16-year-old girl was witnessed at a pay phone. The members of Las Nietas assumed incorrectly that she was calling the police, threatened the girl's life and left the scene.
At around 9:47 p.m. the girl had traveled about six blocks south to the corner of Willis and Lincoln Avenues where she interacted with a young man, who was not present at the earlier confrontation.
While the girl stood on the street, a red vehicle with tinted windows pulled up and a hand emerged firing five or six shots, one of which struck the girl in her abdomen.
The police believe the weapon to be a .38 cal. semiautomatic pistol due to the casings found at the scene. The girl was taken to an area hospital where, at press time, she remains in stable condition.
After the shooting both uniformed and plainclothes police canvassed the area and at around 3:30 a.m. a suspicious car was stopped by plainclothes police, members of the Bureau of Special Operations.
Five young men were in the car, including the young man who was threatened by the members of Las Nietas earlier in the evening. "They made statements to the effect that he was out for revenge for the first confrontation," said Haeselin.
All five men, alleged members of MS-13, were arrested and charged with 4th Degree Conspiracy, a class E felony and face time in prison.
The police are still looking for the shooter, believing the members of Las Nietas, who earlier threatened the girl, are the chief suspects.
While it investigates the case, the Third Squad will be working with the Gang Intervention Partnership, a recently implemented Nassau County initiative to deal with situations just like this.
Assistant Chief Herbert Faust heads up the Gang Intervention Partnership which was formed as preventative medicine, to stop the gang problem before it became uncontrollable.
The police have maintained that though Nassau County residents should maintain a level of awareness, there is nothing to fear, so were they surprised that the shooting occurred?
"I am not surprised that an incident occurred," said Faust, "I am surprised it happened in Mineola."
Faust credited the police agencies for doing such a quick job in keeping the violence from escalating, arresting the car full of MS-13 members before they could retaliate.
Faust is very familiar with both gangs that were involved in the string of incidents. Las Nietas is a gang whose origin comes from the harsh Puerto Rican prison system in which they eventually became a formidable presence.
Mara Salvatrucha 13 or MS-13 is a gang from El Savalador that came with the immigration of Salvadorans to the US during their country's Civil War. The gang has garnered a reputation for violence, craziness and aggressiveness toward other gangs.
Faust maintains an optimistic view in his and the county's goal to eliminate gang activity and assures the community that action will be taken. "Things will get better, but first there will be incidents," he said. Faust added it is only with the help of the community, that the police agencies will be able to solve the problem.
Anyone who wants to help by providing information to the police about this specific case can contact the Third Squad at 573-6353.