Still no cameras at NYCHA building where two have been murdered in less than four years

June 7, 2019 Noah Goldberg
Members of the public attended a hearing on Public Housing and Public Safety at City Hall Thursday. Eagle photo by Noah Goldberg
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Despite two mysterious, unsolved murders of women over the age of 80 in less than four years at a NYCHA senior housing building, the authority still has not installed cameras in the building, a NYCHA official confirmed Thursday at a City Council hearing.

Jacolia James, 83, was beaten to death on April 30 in her apartment in Brownsville at the Woodson houses. In November 2015, 82-year-old Myrtle McKenny was found dead in her apartment in the same building. She was also murdered. Despite calls for cameras from residents at the building, none have been installed, a fact residents have said makes them fearful.

“How does an 83-year-old woman get killed in her apartment and no one knows who killed her – and before you answer that question – in the same building a couple years prior to that an 84-year-old [sic] woman was killed in her apartment – same exact building. So in order for us to understand what NYCHA is doing related to safety and security and layered-access doors and cameras and lighting, can you explain to me how this happened?” Councilmember Alicka Ampry-Samuel asked at a joint hearing of the Committee on Public Housing and the Committee on Public Safety.

NYCHA’s director of safety and security, Raymond Rodriguez, said no cameras have been put in at the Woodson Houses, but that after the second murder, the process to install cameras in is being expedited.

“Unfortunately, there are no cameras to this day over at Woodson,” Rodriguez said. “So basically, that’s something we’ve already gotten pricing and so forth and so on, basically to put the infrastructure into the development with additional camera resources, and that’s where we’re at at this time.”

Police have not made arrests on either of the killings.

“They’re both under investigation,” said NYPD Chief of Housing James Secreto. “We have beefed up our coverage of that address.”

Councilmembers grilled the NYCHA employees about the number and life-expectancy of functioning cameras the authority has already installed.

NYCHA has installed 16,600 cameras – which last about 10 years each – across more than 200 developments citywide in the past two decades, Carolyn Jasper, vice president of public housing operations, testified on Thursday.

When asked directly by Ampry-Samuel  if those cameras are all operational, Jasper said she could not say.

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