Then came the anger: a vigil on Monday evening was marred by an unruly young mob thrashing its way through local businesses; another protest followed the next day.
By the middle of this week, the tension in East Flatbush could be measured in the silently flashing lights of squad cars parked at tight intervals along a rain-soaked Church Avenue.
For some, the sight of extra police officers meant a potential reprieve in an area troubled by crime. For others, it was anything but reassuring.
The police said that two plainclothes officers fatally shot Kimani Gray, 16, just before 11:30 p.m. on Saturday after he brandished a revolver and pointed it at them. The police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, said Tuesday that the police had interviewed three witnesses, “two of which say that the officers said, ‘Don’t move.’ ”
“Another witness said an officer says, ‘Freeze,’ ” he said. The officers then fired 11 shots, the police said.
A full report from the city medical examiner — detailing the nature of the gunshot wounds to Mr. Gray’s abdomen and legs — had not yet been released Tuesday night. The officers who fired the shots have not been interviewed by investigators, as is department protocol.
For local residents, many of whom voiced skepticism about the official account, the situation was grimly familiar. Less than a year before, and only blocks away, a narcotics detective shot and killed an unarmed 23-year-old woman, Shantel Davis, as she fled the police in a car that had been reported stolen at gunpoint, the police said at the time.
Vigils followed that shooting as well. But soon the rhythms of daily life returned, marked by what young men and women said was a daily backbeat of police stops. “You try to put it out of your mind,” said Ms. Davis’s sister Crystal.
In interviews around the neighborhood, many spoke of a Police Department that, in its aggressive pursuit of gangs and informal criminal crews, has sown distrust, especially among young men and women, who feel that their encounters with officers have had racial overtones.
At a barbershop along Church Avenue, two men on Tuesday were discussing the recent shooting when an Asian delivery cyclist pulled onto the sidewalk across the street. “See that guy,” said Elverton Thomas, a 39-year-old black telemarketer there for a haircut. “He can ride on the sidewalk. We can’t.”
His barber, Julian Clark, also black, concurred. Two years before, he said, an officer stopped him in front of the shop for sidewalk riding, and then arrested him after the officer said his identification had expired; he spent a day in custody sorting it out, he said. “They have a hard time because there’s a lot of crime in the neighborhood,” he said of the police. “But when they play hardball, they end up going after innocent people, too.”
Anthony Murray, 15, said he was walking his girlfriend home on Snyder Avenue recently when two officers emerged from a van and searched him for weapons. When the officers grabbed Mr. Murray, his cellphone fell from his hand, he said, noting that the screen cracked on the ground.
“I showed it to him, and he said, ‘Oh, that’s not my problem,’ ” Mr. Murray said.
The seemingly constant presence of the police in the lives of many young people — both on the street and, increasingly, on social media — has left many feeling suffocated, said Shanduke McPhatter, 35, an ex-gang member who works with young men in the neighborhood. “I understand the state of mind that these youths have,” he said. “The problem is there is no relationship with the police.”
At the same time, he said, the situation on the streets has grown more complex for the law enforcement: gangs are less organized, replaced instead by informal crews for which the requirements are few and in which leadership is frequently up for grabs among increasingly young members.
“The police say, ‘Look at these kids, they’re wild,’ ” Mr. McThatter said. “And then they use that as an excuse to be wild themselves.”
On Tuesday, police investigators could be seen dusting for fingerprints inside a Rite Aid store where, the night before, a group of at least three dozen mostly young people briefly rampaged through the aisles, turning over displays and assaulting one customer who attempted to intervene. The police released surveillance video from the store and later announced the arrest of a 19-year-old, saying he was one of three who hit the customer and took his cellphone.
“Nothing justifies that,” Mr. Kelly said. He told a City Council hearing on Tuesday that the violence had been perpetrated by a disorderly group that broke away from the vigil and did not constitute a riot, as some had termed it.
“That belittles it,” City Councilman Jumaane D. Williams said later, referring to the community anger in the wake of the police shooting. “So now we’re going to wait for something worse, for something that meets the true definition of a riot?”
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