New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced with great fanfare on Friday that he had a plan to bring down the sharp spike in shootings that have gripped the city in recent weeks; “Take Back The Block” would partner community activists with uniformed police in high crime neighborhoods, sending a message to criminals that neither law enforcement nor the residents would tolerate any more violence.
Unfortunately, the criminals apparently didn’t get the message. CBS 2 in NYC reports that there were at least 22 shootings over the weekend, with 28 victims in all, including a 1-year old boy shot and killed late Sunday evening.
Police said the child was sitting in a stroller with a group of people having a barbecue when gunfire erupted.
It happened around 11:30 p.m. outside Raymond Bush Playground on Madison Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Police said the boy was shot in the stomach and died at the hospital.
Three adults were also wounded, but are expected to survive.
Police believe a group of suspects ambushed the victims, jumping out of a car, firing multiple shots and then driving away.
So far, police don’t have any suspects in the case and few leads to go on. Meanwhile, the New York Post reports that over a 15 hour period on Saturday, 15 people were shot across the city.
The shootings — including a 21-year-old man left fighting for his life after being shot in the head while sitting in a car in Sheepshead Bay early Sunday — were more in one day than the whole of the same week last year, sources said.
They capped 43 shootings so far this week — more than triple last year’s tally of 13 for the same period, sources said.
“I had gone to bed early and the next thing I knew I heard two pops out my window that sounded just like fireworks,” a neighbor who identified herself as Lucy said of the Sheepshead Bay shooting.
“Well, I heard plenty of fireworks around here a week ago so I didn’t think anything of it at first until I heard someone screaming,” she said. “The next thing I knew the street was flooded with police lights and ambulance lights.”
In one, a 41-year-old man identified by neighbors as Thomas Gonzalez was shot in the chest in the East Village as at least three people rode up on bicycles — firing a barrage of at least nine shots, sources said.
A neighbor at the Bracetti Plaza on East 4th Street said Gonzales had been visiting family members — and was shot just after 2:30 a.m. as he sat chatting to friends in seats near a kids’ play area.
Can the city get a grip on the violence? At the moment, officials can’t even agree on what’s driving the spike in crime, with NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea blaming the city’s bail laws and the release of hundreds of inmates from local lockups to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The New York Post, on the other hand, says that at the moment there have only been a few arrests of people who’ve been released early, and the paper cites several criminal justice experts who say the answer is to focus on “illegal guns coming into the city.”
So, de Blasio wants unarmed citizens to stand with cops, the city’s top law enforcement officer wants bail reform, and some academics say the focus needs to be on the illicit firearms market. Unfortunately, virtually no one seems to be calling for some Second Amendment reform that would allow law-abiding New Yorkers to protect themselves with legally-owned firearms of their own. Instead, city officials will keep flailing away, hoping against hope that at least one of their strategies will eventually pay off.
At the moment, there’s no evidence that will be the case. Until the city’s criminals have good reason to believe that if they shoot someone they’re likely to be caught and prosecuted, or stand a good chance of a law-abiding gun owner shooting back in self-defense, there’s simply no reason to believe that the city will become a safer place anytime soon.