The commotion on the street outside was so loud the young couple couldn’t possibly sleep through it.

Looking out the first-floor bedroom window of the home in the 500 block of 19th Street, the man yelled to his girlfriend, “(Expletive) this. They’re at it again. Calls the cops.”

When the cops arrived, just before 4 a.m. on May 26, they found Harrison Mozell, no stranger to police, crumpled over a counter in a nearby convenience store, bleeding profusely from multiple stab wounds to his upper body. A store clerk was trying to stem the bleeding by hold paper towels against the most serious wounds.

Witnesses told officers they heard men and woman “yelling and screaming” and when they looked out they a suspect “holding a silver knife” walking down the street. Moments later, a white SUV, with the knife wielding suspect in the passenger seat, sped away from the scene, with the suspect yelling out the window, “Forget about the blades, we’re getting guns.”

Friday, cops put the collar on Marchello Gildersleeve, a convicted felon just recently released from a prison term for an armed robbery and charged him with first-degree assault in the attack on Mozell. Gildersleeve remembered fighting with Mozell, but not stabbing him.

The attack on May 26 was one of three serious stabbings in the 400 and 500 blocks of 19th Street in a one week period. Some neighbors say violence is a nightly occurrence.

Police say there is a disturbing trend developing. One veteran cop called 19th Street from Niagara Street to Pine Avenue a “combat zone.”

“It’s the whole prevailing attitude of lawlessness there,” said Falls Police Detective Capt. Ernest Palmer. “It seems like half the violent crime here, occurs in a two block area there.”

The neighborhood first gained police attention in June 2005, when Nicholas Kwasniewski was beaten and stomped to death by a gang of young men in a case of mistaken identity. Since then, there have been three other homicides in the general area of 19th Street and at least a dozen serious shootings and stabbings.

“None of the crimes appear to be connected to each other,” Palmer said. “But it just seems like the way (people) resolve conflict there is with knives and guns.”

The detective captain said most of the violence does not appear to be gang-related, though he noted there is “a lot of narcotics activity over there.”

“At different times in my career, I could point to certain areas as a hotbed of criminal activity,” Palmer said. “It moves around, but now it appears to be (19th Street).”

The escalating violence has gotten the attention of police brass, who have watched with amount of crime in the corridor since just January.

“We are concerned,” Palmer said. “This is an area that needs attention.”

Statistics compiled by the Falls Police Department’s crime analyst reinforce Palmer’s worries. From January to April what police define as the “19th Street Area”, which is 19th Street from Pierce Avenue to the Niagara River and from 14th Street to 27 Street, 793 reported criminal offenses.

On 19th Street alone, there were 83 offenses, more than 10 percent of the total crime in the area.

“It has turned problematic,” Falls Police Superintendent John Chella said. “Corrective action needs to be taken, and we will take it.”

Among the most violent crimes in the first four months of this year, that have attracted police attention, were arsons, assaults, weapons possession, narcotics possession, menacing and robbery. In April, Chella stepped up patrols in the area by both Falls Police and New York State Police as part of Operation Impact.

“We did uniformed, saturation patrols for seven days over two weeks,” Chella said. “And we did pretty well, based on the number of arrests we had. But based on our analysis, we knew those crimes would be there.”

Chella said officers had two mandates.

“Be a deterrent (to crime) or make an arrest,” he said. “And I know we’re going to do that again, very shortly.”

Despite the stepped up attention, the top cop says turning the neighborhood around won’t be easy.

“It’s going to take awhile to clean it up,” Chella said. “It didn’t get this way overnight. To the people who want to live peaceably down there, they’ve got our attention.”

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