Hunt Continues For Pool Hall Gunman
Police in Astoria are searching for a gunman who shot and critically injured a customer on April 9 at the Racks Billiard Club on Steinway Street.
Police sources said a birthday celebration attended by members of the St. John’s University men’s and women’s basketball teams turned to bloodshed when the gunman opened fire outside the club at about 2:20 a.m.
Detectives at the 114th Precinct Squad questioned the St. John’s athletes as they continued to search for the gunman, the sources said.
Sources said the victim, a friend of the players, was shot multiple times but none of the Red Storm teammates were injured in the gunplay.
Police said Curtis Brown, 23, of Freeport, L.I. was struck five times in the chest and torso. Brown was apparently targeted by the gunman, police said.
An argument broke out between the St. John’s players and another group inside the club after a male player flashed a hand sign indicating a 3-point basketball shot, a sign that was misinterpreted by the gunman and his companions as a sign flashed by members of the Bloods street gang.
A scuffle broke out near the front door of the club, the sources said. Club bouncers immediately escorted the troublemakers out of the club, locked the door and called 911, the sources said.
Police said the suspect, one of the men escorted from the club, grabbed a gun he had stored in his car and returned to the scene where he began firing.
One of the male players dragged the bleeding Brown into his car and took off with another male player to Elmhurst Hospital Center, police said. The good Samaritan didn’t get far. He crashed his car near the Grand Central Parkway at Ditmars Boulevard and cops who responded to the accident called for an ambulance to take Brown to the hospital.
A St. John’s University spokesperson said players who attended the party are cooperating with detectives and the school would not comment on the incident until the investigation is completed.
Police said the shooter, also a black male in his 20s, fled the scene in a black Nissan Maxima.
Anyone with information on the gunman is urged to call the Crimestoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS or the 114th Precinct Detective Squad at 1-718-626-9334, The Hotline is offering a $2,000 reward to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.