Jan. 4, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered the city to close a troublesome Kew Gardens hotel, where a 20-year-old was killed in a triple shooting Friday.
De Blasio’s order comes after several months of calls from local elected officials demanding he shutter the Umbrella Hotel, which has become a hotbed of illicit activities – including three shootings, sex trafficking, drug use and other crimes.
The New Year’s Day fatal shooting of a 20-year-old man was the third shooting to have occurred at the Queens Boulevard hotel since early July. The 20-year-old was killed in what officials are calling the city’s first homicide of the year.
De Blasio called the shooting death “very, very painful” and said he is working to close the hotel immediately.
“We’re going to use all the power of the city government to get [the Umbrella Hotel] closed and stop having the community suffer from what’s happened at that hotel,” he said in response to a question from the Queens Eagle during a morning briefing Monday.
There has been a series of shootings and violent incidents at the hotel since summer.
A shooting took place on July 3 when a 15-year-old reputed gang member shot another teen after the pair exited the lobby of the hotel. The victim, 17, was shot in the leg and required surgery.
Another shooting occurred on Aug. 9, although it resulted in no injuries. With this incident, the front door of the Umbrella Hotel was left ridden with bullet holes.
There was also a sex crime. In September, a man allegedly forced a 16-year-old girl into prostitution inside its hotel rooms.
In November, the Umbrella Hotel was served with 15 summonses — including two criminal summonses — following a multi-agency inspection conducted by the NYPD, FDNY, DOB, DEP and Sheriff’s Office.
Residents and local lawmakers like Assembly Member Daniel Rosenthal and Council Member Karen Koslowitz have called on the de Blasio administration to shutter the hotel since August.
After the August shooting, Rosenthal said he was thankful no one was hurt but said it was only a matter of time before someone was injured.
“Thankfully no one got hurt, but how many bullets can we dodge?” Rosenthal told the Queens Post in an August interview.
On New Year’s Day, the assembly member issued a statement condemning City Hall’s lack of action against the hotel, which he said led to the murder of the young man.
“For months, we have joined the Kew Gardens community in calling for this location to be shut down as reports of shootings, illicit drug sales, underage prostitution and unsafe gatherings became a regular occurrence,” Rosenthal said. “City Hall’s failure to act in a timely manner resulted in this preventable and atrocious tragedy.”
Newly-seated Queens Borough President Donovan Richards also called for the hotel’s closure.
“Today’s fatal shooting at the Umbrella Hotel near Queens Borough Hall was a sad and troubling way to start the New Year…,” Richards said on Friday. “It is time for the Umbrella Hotel, which has already been cited for numerous public safety violations, to be shut down.”
De Blasio, who remains under fire for his alleged inaction, said that the city would use all of its legal power to shut down the hotel, which he called “a blight on the community.”