January 21, 2009

Ithaca Residents React to Recent City Shooting

Print More

When residents of First Street saw part of their neighborhood being sectioned off with police tape, their emotions ranged from weariness to genuine shock. In a community that is home to a day care center and several houses, a shooting earlier this month was simply too close for comfort.
According to neighbors, the police surrounded a nondescript house on the 300 block of First Street on the evening of Jan. 8, where the suspect and several other people exited and were later taken into custody.
The shooter was later identified as Caesar Young, 52, of New York City. The victim suffered no fatal injuries.
“I was shocked to find out about it,” said Michael Salmines, a music teacher who lives on the corner of the 100 block of First Street.
Salmines often has students come to his house for tutoring and said he is cautious about letting them walk home at night.
“First Street has been feeling great over the last few years, but there’s always a couple questionable houses,” he added.
Dave Scovronick, interim director of the Drop-In Children’s Center located at 506 First St., said the experience was nerve-wracking.
“I didn’t know anything until I read the paper the next day,” said Scovronick. “There have been other incidents.”
Scovronick, who grew up in Jersey City, explained the situation may have been more jarring to those who are not used to violence in their residential street.
“It kind of depends where you’re from,” said Scovronick of his reaction to the shooting. “This is kind of a rough area, but I think for the most part the neighbors have been pretty friendly and helpful.”
Although few neighbors had little interaction with the shooter or the victim, there was speculation about the nature of the incident.
According to previous reports, Young had several aliases including Caesar Slaughter and Messiah Turner.
Young additionally has Kings County felony convictions for robbery, attempted robbery and criminal possession of stolen property, according to The Ithaca Times.
Some residents, though disturbed by the shooting, insist it was a rare occurrence that does not properly represent the neighborhood’s cohesiveness and safety.
“It was kind of an insular thing,” said one resident, who wished to remain anonymous. “We all know each other. It’s really friendly, and I’ve never felt endangered.”
Although the incident ended with no fatalities, certain residents were shaken enough to demand more of their police department and cited the lack of information available to neighbors mere feet from the shooting.
“Give us a notice or something,” said the anonymous resident. “Then there can be some engagement on what we can do to make the street safer.”
The Ithaca Police Department declined to comment for this story. In a statement released after the incident, the IPD stated that their investigation is continuing and that no charges have been filed.
In 2006, the most recent year of published crime data, there were four counts of forcible rape, 28 counts of robbery, 30 counts of aggravated assault and 3,910 property crimes in Ithaca. The city is ranked 301 on a list of the most violent metropolitan areas, according to 2006 Uniform Crime Reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In spite of having an above average crime rate, Ithaca is also a haven for small businesses and academics. Last year, Forbes Magazine named Ithaca the third most educated city in the nation.
According to certain residents, the tension between the town’s social classes is evident, but not overbearing.
“It’s always upsetting that there’s a shooting in Ithaca, but it’s not the first,” said Scovronick. “We’re getting more aware.”

Related Content:
View all of The Sun’s coverage of the City of Ithaca.