LONGWOOD - Recent NYPD crime statistics show homicides and shootings are on the rise in the Bronx, which accounts for a quarter of the city?s surge in violence so far this year.

Officials say the recent economic crisis may be partly to blame for the spike in crime. According to the report, robberies are inching upward, rising 5.6 percent in 2008, compared to a 0.3 percent increase two years ago.

Another factor that is contributing to the crime surge, officials say, is the growing number of armed youths roaming the streets.

Neil Gonzales has lived in Longwood since he was a child, and he says violence engulfed the area in recent months.

Just a few weeks ago, four men were shot outside the courtyard of 995 Simpson St. in Longwood. All the victims of the shooting were men between 20 and 35 years old.

Local residents say following the Simpson street shooting violence slightly subsided due to increased police presence in the area, but they expect local criminals to return to the streets in the near future.