The Man with the Machete

Home Brooklyn Life The Man with the Machete

By Danielle Bengsch

On Sunday night at around 11 p.m., according to police reports, Samuel Forrese opened the door to his East Flatbush apartment with a machete in hand. After he did not let go of the machete, despite orders to do so, the police employed a Taser. When Forrese still did not drop the weapon, the police fired. Neighbors heard a dozen shots, but reports vary. Samuel Forrese was hit twice in the left leg, in the shin and upper thigh.

Police officers outside Forrese's house. Danielle Bengsch/The Brooklyn Ink.

What happened inside 313 East 94th Street yesterday? The police had no comment beyond a brief description of the shooting, but neighbors and family members did.

When Forrese’s sister and brother returned to Forrese’s apartment at noon on Monday, after an attempt to visit him at Brookdale Hospital, the whole block was still in shock. Two police officers stood outside the house, guarding the crime scene. Cars slowed down, heads poked out: “What’s up with Sammy? Did you hear what happened? I can’t believe it!” His family and neighbors describe the 49-year old Jamaican as gentle. “He is more innocent than a lamb,” his next-door neighbor Melbourne Dawson said.

A sign at the entrance to Forrese's house. Danielle Bengsch/The Brooklyn Ink

Forrese did not have a full-time job. He sold CD’s and DVD’s on the streets. Dantes Olowosuko, his nephew who lives next door, said that he always sent money to his children in Jamaica. “There were only three things on his mind, selling CDs, buying a calling card to call his children and to send home money.” His sister Helena Green-Olowosuko said: “If we could go into his apartment now, I could show you a big stack of Western Union money orders.” She also said that Forrese was behind in paying his rent, because he could not pay all his bills from selling music.

Green-Olowosuko and her son Dantes said Forrese’s daughter Sasha came to live with him in December. Forrese had sponsored Sasha to move from Jamaica to live in New York and to get, Green-Olowosuko said: “What he never got”—a better education than she was receiving in her home country. For the first few months Sasha lived with her mother’s sister in the Bronx, because she worked and could take care for the 17-year old girl. But according to Green-Olowosuko the mother’s sister “couldn’t handle her.” In December, Sasha came to live with her father in Brooklyn.

Green-Olowosuko said that Sasha did not go to school, when she was living in the Bronx. Forrese tried to get Sasha into an AmeriCorps program. During the last few weeks, Green Olowosuko said, Sasha attended a highschool in East Flatbush.

Dantes Olowosuko, who lives next-door, said that there was a lot of fighting. A policewoman who knows the case told the family that there had been four calls for domestic violence after December 28th from Forrese’s apartment and, in a police report, Forrese is called “emotionally disturbed.” Forrese, his sister recalls, had psychiatric problems six years ago. “He was kind of beside himself,” she said, “but not violent.” He has been on medication since, she said.

Sasha is currently with the city’s Administration for Children’s Services and was not able to answer questions for this article. Green-Olowusko said that she spoke to her, and that Sasha told her that she had gotten into a fight with her father, because she had come home late after returning CDs to a friend. She was afraid of him, because he was cursing, Sasha told her aunt. So she locked herself up in her room and called the police. Sasha said to her aunt that she said that she opened the door to the police, not her father. “I won’t lie about my father,” Sasha told Green-Olowosuko.

At Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn Samuel Forrese picked up his head an inch from his hospital bed as the nurses rolled him into surgery on Monday afternoon. He noded slightly at his sister Green-Olowosuko, but remained silent. His leg was in a pale yellow and white brace, held steady by metal poles.

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