The ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Borough Park, Brooklyn, is reeling from the news that 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky, whose disappearance Monday sparked a massive, two-day search, was found murdered and dismembered on Wednesday morning.
Community members had lots of questions on Wednesday, about the suspected killer and about how parents should warn children about predators.
Barry Fink, a Borough Park resident said "We’re basically a big family in Borough Park. It doesn’t happen that children are missing. That’s why within a few hours, we knew something must be very wrong, and, sadly, that feeling was on target."
Chaya Faigie said that she went to sleep uneasy last night and like many people in the community she was worried about Leiby Kletzky. "And then today I walked outside, and I hadn’t even heard the news, but I knew in a second, because the streets were silent," said Faigie.
To say that the worst fears of Borough Park’s Jews have come true only starts to capture the shock and disbelief – compounded, many said, by the sense this close-knit community has that its insular world is relatively safe.
Adina Naamah, who has a grandson the same age as the murdered boy, said "It’s scary, very, very scary. I would not think this story in our community to happen. We have to be scared to leave for a second the children – to send to the store, to buy something, just a grocery, a few steps away. It’s very, very scary," said Naamah.
For many in Borough Park, the idea that a Jewish man could do this to a Jewish boy, as police investigators alleged on Wednesday, added to the horror.
People who live and work in Kensington, Brooklyn, the neighborhood where some of Leiby Kletzky's dismembered remains were discovered, are also shaken by the violent killing.
Mariano Munoz said he lives two blocks from the home of alleged killer Levi Aron and he worries about local kids.
"Children are maybe more vulnerable during the summer because they're not in school. They're not being watched the whole day. Something to think about," said Munoz, who added that more summer programs could help keep kids safer.
Carmen Ocasio said her daughter and granddaughter live near Aron's home.
"It makes me sad," said Ocasio, "You know why? Because I think that children are not safe. They're not safe at all. Even for five minutes."
Another mother, Shirley Govan, said she works for a billing company in Kensington, and called her husband when she heard of the boy's brutal murder.
"I told my husband, 'Please watch the kids as they go outside because it's very dangerous, very dangerous."