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Kimani Gray shooting death: East Flatbush wholesaler offers alternative to violence

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Pat Russo is worried.

The ex-narcotics cop runs a boxing gym called Cops and Kids in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, where Kimani Gray, 16, was shot dead by police on March 9, triggering neighborhood protests that have sometimes grown violent. Russo worries about a return to the bad old days of mayhem in the area.

“I remember 1987 when my father bought this building on Utica Ave. to start Chef’s Choice wholesale food distributer,” he says. “My business partner stepped outside one day just as a shootout broke out across the street. Six bullets tore into his car. It was a miracle he wasn’t hurt.”

Russo, who was a narc in the 72nd Precinct in Sunset Park, says East Flatbush was then a Dodge City of drugs, guns and violence.

“The auto body shop on one side of us was a chop shop,” he says. “The grocery on the other side was a smoke shop. Today we expanded Chef’s Choice to both those stores. We employ 60 hardworking local people. Crime in East Flatbush is down 92%. We have great kids who come into our gym every day to train for the Golden Gloves, the Olympics, the pros, as an alternative to the Crips and the Bloods gangs.”

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