The suburbs of Long Island, New York were once a haven for middle class families trying to escape the perceived dangers and discomfort of nearby New York City. However, as the working class and working poor are pushed out of the Big Apple due to rising rent costs, many end up in South Shore towns that increasingly have become flash points for those same inner-city troubles they once tried to flee. Now police suspect local gang activity is the culprit for the brutal beating deaths of a teenager and the best friend who tried to protect her when thugs abducted her.
Tuesday evening, just hours before her 16th birthday, the body of Nisa Mickens was found on a Brentwood street. Her wounds were so severe, that at first investigators believed she had been hit by a car. An autopsy revealed, however, at least 10 injuries to her head and face. The medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, and said the cause of death was assault. She was last seen walking with her friend, 16-year-old Kayla Cueva, but Kayla was nowhere to be found. It was later assumed Nisa died trying to prevent her friend from being abducted. The following day, Kayla’s dead body was discovered in a nearby backyard 50 yards from where her Nisa was found.
Police currently have no suspects but investigators say there is evidence local street gang members were involved in the murders. Long Island has seen an exponential growth of street gang activity over the past decade, including such well-known entities as the Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings and MS-13. Guardian Angel founder Curtis Sliwa, who began sending patrols out to Long Island in 2014 after several high profile gang-related shootings, said in a March interview Brentwood has seen “tremendous growth” in gang activity. Earlier this week there were 2 gang related shootings in the Nassau County town of Hempstead.