I spoke to several people who spend a significant time in the park and from the information I have been able to gather, the tension between two groups of teens has been mounting for almost two years now.
According to what I have been told, each group includes about 15 teens that congregate around Smith Street and Carroll Park on a regular basis after school lets out at 3 PM. One group seems to be coming from Hoyt Street, while the other comes down Court Street from the direction of the Place blocks.
The encounters mostly involved a lot of gesturing and posturing, but recently some have almost come to blows. Towards the end of last school year, a fight on President Street and Carroll Park between the rivals resulted in someone calling the police. Two police cars responded and I personally witnessed two kids being led away in handcuffs by officers of the 76th Precinct.
One local resident who spends significant time in the park and witnessed Monday's attach, told me that the tension can be felt when the two groups meet. The resident told me that the stand-offs mostly involve the same kids, but don't always happen in the park. During the summer, the groups apparently had skirmishes in other parts of the neighborhood.
The 76th Precinct is continuing to investigate Monday afternoon's attack. They are also investigating who shot a gun several times near the park at Court Street at 7:50 Pm that same night. No word yet if the two have been linked or if this is indeed an escalation in the turf war.
In the meantime, there is a larger police presence around the park.