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Murder Heralds Another Season Of Violence?

One dead person is dead and two others remain hospitalized after a Wednesday night shooting along the outskirts of Albany's Arbor Hill. A preview of summer violence?

In late October, 2014, shaken by yet another round of gun crime in Albany, elected officials, community leaders and private citizens gathered together for a downtown brainstorming session. At the time, Mayor Kathy Sheehan said:     "We learn when we listen and sometimes a community has ideas that are far better than anything that we can come up with in a conference room in city hall."

A pattern has emerged: gun violence rocks a neighborhood, touching peoples' lives and triggering candlelight vigils, makeshift memorials, marches and public discussions.

Curbing that violence has been a thankless, daunting task for all who've been trying, from Albany County D.A. David Soares to Albany city pastor Charlie Muller and other local anti-gun and anti-violence activists along with the disjointed SNUG, which, despite its best efforts, hasn’t been able to break the chain.

While most city residents welcome the warmer temperatures and flock to the outdoors, residents of the Arbor Hill and South End neighborhoods brace for another uptick in street violence.

The latest happened Wednesday night. While details are still few, police say a 21-year-old man is dead after being shot in a playground at North Lake and Third Streets around nightfall. Albany Police Spokesman Steve Smith:  "At approximately 8 p.m. last evening we responded to a report of a shooting at the intersection of Third Street and North Lake Avenue. When the officers arrived on the scene, they located three males who had been shot. All three males were treated at the scene by medical personnel. They were transported to Albany Medical Center Hospital for treatment. One of the victims, a 21-year-old male, was pronounced deceased at the hospital from injuries he sustained during the shooting. The two other victims, ages 23 and 28, both are in stable condition at this time. Right now it's an ongoing investigation, this is an opportunity for anybody in the community who may have heard anything, saw anything, to call Albany police."

Detectives are taking confidential calls at 462-8039.

Yellow crime scene tape was strung around the trees and utility poles bordering the park Thursday morning, which was being combed for clues by scores of officers. Few people were on the street, and those who were either said they had no knowledge of any shooting or didn't want to talk on microphone. One woman remarked that "good people around here stay indoors after dark."

The shooting came as no surprise to Community Advocate Marlon Anderson, who had predicted it a few weeks ago. He's organized an "action plan" for the community that he'll detail Saturday afternoon at the Arbor Hill branch of the Albany Public Library. "Right now, we have a climate in the city of violence, apathy and indifference in the urban community. We have to create community reform. There is too much violence, too much opportunity for violence, there's so much going on in this community. It's been simmering below the surface for too long, and I've said as the weather gets warmer it's going to come to a boil.”

In an effort to turn down the heat,  Anderson is scheduled to meet Friday with Mayor Sheehan and police chief Brandon Cox ahead of Saturday's community forum at the library.

5th Ward Albany Common Council Member Mark Robinson, who represents the neighborhood where the latest shooting took place, could not be reached for comment.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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