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Violent weekend rocks West Side Attacks include 2 fatal shootings

He lived by the gun. He died by the gun.

That's what police are saying about 19-year-old Abraham Carrasquillo, who was shot to death Sunday afternoon when he was ambushed at a carwash at Massachusetts and Shields avenues.

Carrasquillo was polishing his car at 1:20 p.m. at Bubble Brush Car Wash, 363 Massachusetts Ave., police said, and the music pumping from his car stereo was so loud that he apparently had no idea a white car had pulled up to him.

A shooter inside that vehicle fired at least five bullets at him, killing Carrasquillo instantly.

He was shot three times in the back, once in the leg and once in the arm, police said.

The violence that claimed him was part of a tumultuous weekend on Buffalo's West Side that included two execution-style daylight killings, a man shot on Herkimer Street, and gunfire on two straight days on Auburn Avenue.

Police are investigating whether all five of these shootings were sparked by a gang war between rival groups, including the other homicide, which claimed the life of Julio Penaloza, 30.

"A gun is not a form of protection. A gun just offers a false sense of security," said community activist Arlee Daniels Jr. of the Stop the Violence Coalition.

"It's a dangerous lifestyle, and it's a reckless lifestyle," he said. "When you live a reckless lifestyle, it's almost guaranteed that your recklessness will eventually catch up to you."

Police said that's what apparently happened to Carrasquillo. Last summer, he was arrested for firing a .40-caliber automatic into a crowd of people on Grant Street; no one was injured.

Police sources said there could be a link in the latest cases.

"Anytime there are two murders within three days in a very close proximity, we're always concerned," said Buffalo police spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge. "Just one murder is cause for concern."

Police said they believe Carrasquillo's slaying was a retaliation for Friday afternoon's killing of Penaloza -- just five blocks away.

Penaloza was riding his bicycle on Massachusetts, at Fargo Avenue, at about 2:45 p.m. when a vehicle drove up to him and a gunman inside fired as many as eight shots, police said.

He suffered multiple gunshot wounds, including a bullet to the head, police said.

Penaloza, too, was known to police and had a criminal record, officers said.

Carrasquillo's death came little more than a year after he was charged in a shooting. On June 19, 2006, he was fighting with a 16-year-old youth on Grant Street, between Forest Avenue and Pooley Place, according to police reports.

After the fight, Carrasquillo pointed a gun at the teenager and the boy's relative as they stood in a crowd of 11 people, police said.

Carrasquillo fired a single bullet at the two young men, but the bullet missed his intended targets, and Carrasquillo ran away, leaving behind his blue Nike sneaker at the shooting scene, police said.

He returned to the scene about 90 minutes later to continue the fight, police said, but officers arrested him. He was charged with reckless endangerment, two counts of harassment, and carrying a loaded firearm.

The disposition of the court case could not be determined Monday.

On Feb. 11, 2005, Carrasquillo was arrested on charges of unlawful possession of marijuana, false personation and three traffic violations.

In Buffalo City Court, all those charges were dismissed; he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, and he was released on a conditional discharge, according to court officials.

The weekend's mayhem also included a shooting at about 5 p.m. Friday at a home at 99 Herkimer St.

Police said Miguel Crespo was lying on the couch in the upper apartment when gunmen barged in, shot him once in the leg and fled. Police said they believe the shooting may have been drug-related.

Two days of shootings on Auburn Avenue also may be connected to the two weekend homicides, police said.

At 1:40 a.m. Monday, a West Side man was walking at Auburn Avenue and Baynes Street when a dark red vehicle, occupied by three or four men, pulled up to him at the intersection, according to Northwest District police. One of the men inside the car fired five or six shots at the man but missed him. Three bullets hit the door of a car parked on Parkdale Avenue, police said.

The night before, at about 11:50 p.m., a single shot was fired into a woman's home in the 300 block of Auburn. The bullet went through the blinds of the home, hit the ceiling and ricocheted into the wall, just above the main entrance door. No injuries were reported.

Daniels -- a former gang member who now mentors troubled young people -- urged parents to get more involved with their children's lives and to work with community groups focused on helping at-risk youths.

"Parents should know their children's friends and know those children's parents," said Daniels. "If you believe your kids are at risk, then get together with those parents, form an alliance, take a stand that says, 'We're not going to take it anymore.'

"Together," he said, "we can try to preserve these children's lives."


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