One week ago, a young man got dressed, put on his sneakers, and went out to hang with his friends. He probably told his folks he’d be back later. Perhaps he kissed them before he left. It’s likely his folks told him to be careful. It’s a scene that plays out hundreds, if not thousands of times each night across Queens. Those of us who are adults now, think back to when we were teens, and chuckle at how worried our parents were. It’s easy to look back and laugh. After all, we made it through without a scratch.
But every once in a while, life throws us a curve, and some unfortunate souls experience the cosmic opposite of hitting the lottery. Tragedy chooses them and rains sorrow down upon their home. Last week, Nicholas Cordova left his home in Richmond Hill and never returned. He was was found lying on the street, not far from the house he was raised in by his adoptive parents. He was shot in the back of the head, a wound he would never recover from, slipping away before the week ended.
There is a very touching shrine dedicated to Nicholas’ memory, at the spot where he was found. We’ve seen a fair number of these shrines over the years. Some are harder to look at than others. How can one look at young Nicholas, as a chubby little 3 or 4 year old, and not feel sadness that this little boy won’t get the opportunity to grow up, and in time, become a valued member of our community. An old man with children and grandchildren of his own. A life cut short results in a million what ifs.
Rest in Peace, Nicholas Cordova. Our thoughts and prayers are with Nicholas’ family.
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When the story first broke it caused a stir here in Woodhaven. It was stated in the NY Daily News that the shooting took place on 85th Avenue in Woodhaven. We got several E-Mails asking us “85th Avenue and where?” Later, in the New York Post, it was more specific, stating that the shooting happened around 6:45 at 84-27 85th Avenue in Woodhaven. Okay, fair enough. Except that there is no 84-27 85th Avenue. And residents on the block that it was supposed to have happened on know nothing about it. It was Primary Night and people were out at that time. Nothing happened on that block.
Later, after trading messages with someone saying they were a friend of Nicholas, we discovered the mistake — the crime occurred on 85th Avenue between 105th and 106th Streets, but the press still has not corrected it. Some folks might not think it’s a big deal — they might say we’re too concerned with protecting Woodhaven’s “reputation,” nitpicking over typos in a newspaper while a family grieves. But every newspaper article is publishing this information with the hopes of a witness calling the Crimestoppers Hotline (1-800-577-TIPS) — and not a single article that we’ve seen has has given their readers the correct neighborhood, much less the correct street. That’s not helpful to the cause of catching the fiend who did this.
If we’re going to give out information to the public in a criminal case, we need to make sure the information we give them is correct. And when we’re wrong, we need to correct the record as soon as possible.
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There’s been a flurry of bad incidents in our community of late. The murder of Nicholas Cordova, a 17-year old with a bright future, comes on the heels of the murder of Dario Paiva, a 27-year old with a bright future. Dario was slain by a member of the Latin Kings on a train platform on 85th Street in Woodhaven. We also had a hit and run incident which left a man dead, and we had a cabbie dragged to death through our streets. Each and every day we see more and more graffiti, and we know that a lot of the graffiti is gang related. At a recent meeting of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, representatives from the 102nd confirmed there are gangs in Woodhaven and asked for the public’s help in identifying them. If you see a group of people that you think may be gang related, call the 102nd Precinct (718-805-3200) and ask for Officer Gargan. All information that you pass along with be held in complete confidence.
The last 6 to 8 weeks should serve as a wake up call to all the residents in our community. Many of us have financial investments here, whether it be a home, or a business. Many of us have children, or teenagers. And they will be walking out the door each night, to hang with their friends.
We need to work together, and with our elected officials, and with our 102nd Precinct to make sure our community is as safe as it can be. So that our kids can walk out the door each day and come home safely again.