The troubled Queens hotel where the Big Apple’s first homicide of 2021 occurred is a “public nuisance” and an “eye sore” that must quickly be shut down, elected officials and locals railed Friday.
Roughly an hour and 10 minutes after midnight, a triple shooting erupted outside of the Umbrella Hotel in Kew Gardens, leaving a 20-year-old man dead and two other men, ages 20 and 40, injured.
Police believe shots were fired when two groups of men started fighting in front of the hotel on 82nd Avenue where neighbors say a New Year’s Eve party had been taking place inside.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said in a statement that the shooting “was a sad and troubling way to start the New Year.”
“Whoever is responsible for this heinous crime must swiftly be brought to justice. It is also time for the Umbrella Hotel, which has already been cited for numerous public safety violations, to be shut down,” said Richards.
“This hotel is a public nuisance that has no place in Kew Gardens or anywhere in our borough or city,” the borough president added. “The hotel’s guests and residents of the surrounding community should not be subjected to its dangerous conditions.”
Richards told The Post, “The bottom line is we need to shut the hotel down.”
“The hotel owners are taking the easy way out. They’re renting to anybody. It’s a disgrace,” said Richards, who called it “unfair to the Kew Gardens neighborhood.”
Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal (D-Flushing) tweeted Friday that the seedy hotel “has had chance after chance.”
Mayor de Blasio’s office “has been warned time and time again and they must finally act swiftly and shut this place down permanently,” said Rosenthal.
Rosenthal told The Post that his office has received more than 100 complaints involving the hotel since July.
“This crime could have been prevented,” he said.
The hotel, across from Queens Borough Hall and nearby Queens Criminal Court, has a troublesome history.
It was recently slapped with more than a dozen violations from the city following a joint investigation by multiple agencies including the NYPD, FDNY and the Department of Buildings, and neighbors claim it has become a hub for drug-dealing, prostitution and violence.
“It was a good hotel years ago,” said an area resident who declined to identify himself. “Now it has changed drastically. All these unsavory characters hang out there — drug dealers, prostitutes, sex traffickers, gangs.”
“I definitely want it closed down. It’s not good for the neighborhood. This is a good area,” the man said.
Richard Rogers, a 15-year Queens resident, echoed those remarks.
“The neighborhood is good, but this hotel is a problem. There is no question about it,” said Rogers, 52, explaining that neighbors have repeatedly called 311 to report the hotel.
“If they don’t shut it down, it’s going to continue to cause serious problems for the neighborhood,” he said, adding, “They should shut it down. There is too much going on there. There have been shootings, domestic fights.”
Rogers said he was “not surprised” by Friday’s fatal shooting.
“It was just a matter of time before someone got killed. This person barely lived to see 2021,” Rogers said of the young victim.
He called the hotel, which briefly served as a city-run emergency shelter for homeless families after its initial opening, “the only sore eye in the neighborhood.”
Meanwhile, neighbors said they heard several shots ring out during early Friday’s shooting.
“I saw one guy drenched in blood. He was on his back. He yelled out real loud at one point, ‘I can’t breathe,’” said a man who identified himself as Kevin, 47. “Two female cops were attending to him.”
“The other two [shooting victims] were lying on their backs. They were not talking,” he said.
Additional reporting by Tina Moore and Craig McCarthy
Credit: NYPOSTNewzandar News