By Joy Bergmann
Longstanding tensions between two rival gangs on the Upper West Side have heated up following last week’s stabbing murder of Tony McClain, 20, causing NYPD’s 24th Precinct to increase patrols, Capt. Seth Lynch told attendees at Wednesday night’s Community Council meeting.
Lynch told West Side Rag that McClain was associated with CAG, Columbus Avenue Gunners [sometimes spelled Gunnas], a “crew” largely populated by youth from the area in and around NYCHA’s Douglass Houses development between 100 and 104th Streets, Manhattan Avenue to Amsterdam.
Lynch added that the suspects charged in McClain’s murder, Jashawn Gorham, 18, and Brighton Montgomery, 17, were affiliated with a crew known as Money Comes First [MCF]. MCF recruits often hail from NYCHA developments in the West 90s, Lynch said, including Wise Towers on 90th and 91st between Columbus and Amsterdam, the DeHostos Apartments on 93rd and Amsterdam, and buildings known as WSUR sites.
“There is an existing animosity between youth that reside in the Frederick Douglass Houses and those who reside in the DeHostos area at the [southern] end of the precinct,” Lynch stated at the meeting. “We do have a crew of individuals known by association to each other that have been known to engage in criminal acts in the Douglass Houses as well as the Wise Towers.”
Lynch said a memorial vigil for McClain held last Friday night in a Douglass Houses courtyard attracted over 100 mourners.
The following night – Saturday, January 12th, around 9:55pm – a group of individuals gathered on 102nd Street between Central Park West and Manhattan Avenue. A fight reportedly broke out and shots were fired. No one was hurt, but 24th Precinct detectives are seeking the public’s help in identifying the individuals seen in surveillance photos from the scene. The incident may be connected to the McClain homicide, but the investigation is ongoing, Lynch said. ‘The time frame between the homicide on Thursday and the shots fired incident on Saturday night is not something that’s being ignored by us here at the precinct.”
The 24th Precinct's Detective Squad is endeavoring to identify the pictured subjects in connection to SHOTS FIRED call that occurred on W102nd St btw. Central Park West & Manhattan Avenue on Sat Jan 12th at approx. 09:55PM. Please contact the Squad at 212-678-1863 with any info. pic.twitter.com/4fSWZRpLz1
— NYPD 24th Precinct (@NYPD24Pct) January 16, 2019
Lynch also revealed another connecting point between McClain’s stabbing and other recent crimes.
Last August, WSR reported the shooting of an unidentified teenage boy in front of the DeHostos Apartments. Lynch said that the victim in that incident was Jashawn Gorham, who is now charged in McClain’s murder. Lynch said the alleged shooter in the August incident, Jermaine Johnson, 20, was one of three individuals arrested on January 3, 2019, and charged in a federal case in conjunction with the NYPD’s Manhattan North Gang Unit.
WSR has covered multiple acts of violence and theft allegedly involving MCF and CAG crew members going back to 2013. Capt. Lynch rattled off a few of the most egregious incidents, including a 2017 shooting at a barber shop on Columbus and 105th. In 2018, Lynch said, the precinct and the Gang Unit were “paying special attention” to Douglass Houses, leading to six other individuals being arrested and brought up on federal charges of distribution of crack cocaine. As a result, complaints of narcotics sales activity – especially around 109th Street – have diminished, he said.
Today police say they do not know the exact number of youth involved with MCF and CAG on the Upper West Side. Nor can officers say whether a handful of individuals is responsible for the majority of the crews’ suspected criminal acts.
But officers have committed to being extra vigilant against any retaliatory violence stemming from the McClain murder. “There has been and will continue to be an increase in the number of officers patrolling the precinct,” Lynch said. “Here at the 24th, I have officers coming in on their days off to monitor both the Douglass area, the Wise area and the area in between where we had the incident last week.”
Editorial note: Two photos that originally appeared in this post did not depict Tony McClain, but an uninvolved man who also recently died. We regret the error.