Jan. 1, 2021 By Christian Murray
Three men were shot, one fatally, outside a Kew Gardens hotel this morning, in what authorities say was the first homicide in New York City this year.
The shooting took place at around 1:10 a.m. outside the Umbrella Hotel, a hotel known for being a hotbed for crime that residents have wanted shut down for months.
Two groups of men got into a dispute outside the 124-18 Queens Blvd. hotel and bullets flew, according to police. When police arrived on the scene, they discovered three men shot—two 20-year-olds and a 40-year-old.
One of the 20-year-olds was shot in the body and was taken to to NYC Health & Hospitals/Queens where he was pronounced dead. The second 20-year-old was shot in the torso, arms and legs and was transported by EMS to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. He is listed in critical condition.
The 40-year-old was hit in the left leg and was transported via EMS to New York-Presbyterian Hospital Queens, and is listed in stable condition.
The names of the victims have yet to be released and there have been no arrests.
The shooting took place outside a hotel that has been plagued with crime, with residents even holding a rally in August demanding that it be shut down. A petition was also launched demanding that City Hall close it.
The hotel was the scene of two shootings over the summer — one of which left the front door bullet-ridden — as well as a sex trafficking crime involving a minor.
Local officials have been urging the city to shut down the hotel and clamp down on its operators.
The problems emerged soon after the pandemic broke out, according to Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal, in an interview with the QueensPost in August.
The hotel’s vacancy rate, Rosenthal said, soared and its typical clientele of people attending nearby court hearings–as well as tourists–dried up. Room prices dropped and troublesome people started taking advantage of the cheaper room rates and began using it for criminal purposes, he added.
Rosenthal along with Council Member Karen Koslowitz said in September that they had received hundreds of messages from residents complaining about the hotel.
“The unfolding situation at the Umbrella Hotel threatens not only public safety, but has grave public health repercussions,” Rosenthal and Koslowitz said in September. “The lack of response from City Hall points to the sad reality that Mayor de Blasio is not taking these concerns seriously.”
Following pressure from local officials, a multi-agency inspection (MARCH operation) was conducted in November by the NYPD, FDNY, DOB, DEP and Sheriff’s Office.
The hotel was served with 15 summonses – including two criminal summonses. The operators of the hotel were slapped with multiple fines and court appearance tickets.
While local officials lauded the initiative at the time, they viewed it as incomplete.
“For months, we have been asking City Hall to take action and assist the 102nd Precinct and our community in shutting down this hotel,” Rosenthal said in November. “The MARCH operation was a good first step in bringing these concerns to the forefront of enforcement, but we need continued cooperation from the City to ensure that violent crimes and public health violations come to an end at this location. We cannot accept anything less.”
Meanwhile, Koswlowitz also said more needed to be done at the time.
“Hopefully, this mayoral multi-agency response…will provide the impetus for shutting down the Umbrella Hotel,” she said.