If Kelvin Vickers is the only person arrested in the murder of Rochester police Officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz, the ploy by local gangs to hire an outside hitman will have been successful.
Yesterday’s press conference announcing a grand jury indictment of the Boston ex-con was heavy on outrage and light on substance. And it indicated – especially in remarks by Mayor Malik Evans – that the punishment of this gunman would bring justice in the ambush murder of a beloved city cop.
Kelvin Vickers is a dumb, sinister man, but he is a pawn in this game. A hireling.
And it was no agenda of his own that put him on Bauman Street on the night of July 21 spraying lead into an unmarked police car. And until the people who brought him here and put that gun in his hand are held to account, this is an unsolved murder and a win for the gangs which own Rochester’s streets.
That’s not what the mayor or the police chief will tell you, but that’s the truth.
A truth which is understood and restated by almost anyone you talk to in the neighborhood bounded by Clinton and Hudson avenues. Residents believe there has been a war raging this summer between two local factions of a Bloods-affiliated street gang operating in the area. Some point to one block of North Clinton Avenue as the home of one and another block of North Clinton Avenue as the home of the other.
They also say that these and other criminal organizations in Rochester have periodically brought in out-of-town crooks to conduct violence against rivals. These shoot-and-run operations involve anonymous non-local gangsters who will injure or kill someone and then disappear, far from Rochester, leaving no traces or connections for police to investigate.
That’s the theory on the street about what happened in the murder of Officer Mazurkiewicz.
And Kelvin Vickers fits the profile of a disposable gunman for hire.
In trouble with the law since he was 12 – when he assaulted a police officer – he has spent most of his life since in court or in jail. His apparent social media posts reek of gang affiliation and feature an “F12” for good measure. Released from a three-year Massachusetts prison term just 58 days before the attack on Bauman Street, he is a troubled young man without apparent connections or values.
And if he hadn’t been caught by responding officers in the crawl space of a nearby home shortly after the slaying, he would have been in the wind, presumably disappearing back into the Boston underworld from which he emerged.
And though the escape portion of his alleged crime wasn’t successful, the murder itself was. He didn’t get away with it, but whoever set him up did. At least so far. And justice won’t come until there are more arrests, until there is an explanation of the how and why – how he got to Rochester and why he shot up that vehicle on that street at that time.
Pray God Capt. Frank Umbrino and his squad can figure it out.
And pray God that it rains like hell on Saturday night.
Because that’s the best hope neighbors have of keeping the disruptions that follow the last night of the Puerto Rican Festival from wreaking havoc on their streets.
That’s the other thing people in the neighborhood are talking about. They like the fun, but they fear the violence, and they don’t have confidence City Hall will protect them.
Each year’s parading cars and screeching tires, with happy music and dancing people, is a cross between a street festival and a raging riot. Most come to have fun, some come to fight the police. And in a year where gunfire has rung out the length of La Avenida, many are worried about how badly things could go when crowds gather and alcohol flows and the law becomes optional.
In years past, City Hall has spent much and controlled little, responding with passivity to thrown rocks and bottles. Dozens or hundreds will get out of line, but few to none will get arrested, and the respect for police will erode yet more. And with the mayor and chief recently announcing that people will not be arrested for throwing water bottles at officers, or for shooting fireworks at them, things are only going to get worse.
Which is where the rain comes in.
If the mayor won’t use his violence-emergency powers to impose a curfew, maybe God will.
Maybe that will keep this weekend from being the next battle in an unresolved gang war.