A day after a 12-year-old boy was fatally shot in a parked car in Brooklyn, community leaders said the killing was just the latest episode to unnerve local residents who are both afraid of street violence and a return to the aggressive have police tactics.
The boy, whose name had not been released as of Friday, was in the front passenger seat when a hail of bullets swept through the car just before 8 p.m. Thursday, police said. He was hit in the head and pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
On Friday, the car sat at the curb in the East Flatbush section, the passenger-side window was smashed and a single ragged hole pierced the rear window. Bystanders watched the investigators work from both sides of Linden Boulevard near East 56th Street.
“It looks calm, but it’s not,” said Astrid Simmons, a nurse who lives a block away. “It’s scary here.”
Mayor Eric Adams was speaking at a news conference late Thursday, as it began to rain, and vowed the gunman would be caught.
“The question I keep asking is: What about the innocent people? What about people who sit in their cars and get shot?” said Mr Adams, a former police captain who has pledged to halt the sharp rise in shootings that has plagued New York amid the pandemic. “As long as we have guns and a revolving door system, we will continue to come to crime scenes like this.”
The events leading up to the shooting were unclear, but passengers in two black limousines had exchanged shots when the boy was hit and fled in the vehicles, police said. No arrests had been made as of Friday afternoon.
The boy’s death was another grim sign in a wave of gun violence that has swept the city over the past two years, adding to fears for public safety among some New Yorkers and backing Mr Adams’ campaign pledge to ease those fears has put sample.
Crime in New York generally remains well below its levels during the city’s most turbulent final chapters, but there have been more than 1,500 shootings in both 2020 and 2021, according to preliminary police data. That was about twice as many as in the previous two years and the highest number in ten years.
In a single weekend last month, 29 people were shot dead, including two patrons at a Queens bar, a man on a Brooklyn subway platform and a Jamaican immigrant who was killed after a dispute in the Bronx.
The rise in gun violence, part of a broader national trend, is being felt most strongly in many of the same neighborhoods where it has long impacted daily life: those home to many poor and working-class black and Hispanic residents.
In the 67th Ward, which includes East Flatbush, tolls have more than doubled as the virus spread. The number of shooting victims rose from 33 in 2019 to about 78 in 2020, according to police data. The number fell slightly to 61 victims last year, but was still well above pre-pandemic levels.
In Thursday’s episode, the driver of the car, a 20-year-old woman who is related to the 12-year-old, was also shot multiple times and operated on, police said. She was in stable condition on Friday and expected to survive. Another relative, an 8-year-old girl in the back seat, was not injured, police said.
The three were stopped for a meal when they were caught in the middle of “another senseless shooting,” Deputy Police Chief Michael Kemper said at the news conference.
At a saloon a few blocks from the shooting — where several neighbors said the boy’s mother works — people inside waved anyone away without an appointment.
Shootings tend to be highest in the summer, and with warm weather approaching, some people in the neighborhood said plans to stave off an even bigger outbreak of violence were urgently needed.
“I’m afraid,” said Camara Jackson, founder of Elite Learners Inc., a youth empowerment organization in the area. “We must act now. There is no single answer to solve this. You need community involvement. You need violence disruption. They need advocacy and education.”
Ms Jackson said her group often worked with children who had experienced trauma and the lingering effects of shootings in homes and schools were evident.
The 12-year-old boy’s class, she said, “will never be the same.”
“His chair will remain empty forever,” she added.
The youngest residents of New York have been unintentionally killed in several recent shootings.
On March 25, a 3-year-old girl was hit in the shoulder by a stray bullet after leaving a daycare center in Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood with her father around 6 p.m., police said. The gunman’s intended target was a man who put his two-year-old son in a car nearby, police said.
In January, an 11-month-old girl was hit in the cheek by a stray bullet while sitting with her mother in a car parked in the Bronx. The episode was part of a spate of gun violence that saw a 19-year-old Burger King worker killed in a robbery in East Harlem and two police officers fatally shot.
The officers’ deaths spurred Mr Adams to fulfill a prominent campaign promise: to introduce a revamped version of a specialized police unit focused on removing firearms from New York’s streets.
The new incarnation of the unit, which was disbanded in 2020 after police officers acknowledged it had sowed tensions between officers and the people they serve, began work this month – including in East Flatbush, an enclave of Caribbean immigrants.
The plan has drawn criticism from some local residents who are concerned about episodes such as Kimani Gray’s fatal shooting in 2013. Mr Gray, 16, was shot dead seven times by plainclothes officers in East Flatbush after police said he pointed a gun at them. His relatives and lawyers dispute the police account.
In another attempt to stop shootings, Mr Adams said this week the police department should increase its focus on low-level crime to prevent more serious crimes, a strategy known as Police on broken windows.
The mayor’s critics said it would be a throwback to an era marked by brutal police mistreatment of black and Hispanic residents.
Pastor Louis Straker Jr., a member of the 67th Precinct Clergy Council, an anti-violence organization, said police alone “cannot stay out of gun violence.” Mental health and poverty issues also need to be addressed, he said.
“The economic disparities are glaring,” said Mr Straker. “Until we look at how we can make these families more holistic and safer, we’re always going to have these situations where people are disadvantaged. And where people are disadvantaged, violence and crime are unfortunately widespread.”
Sean Piccoli contributed reporting.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/01/nyregion/boy-shooting-minivan-brooklyn.html The 12-year-old boy was fatally shot in a parked car in Brooklyn, police say