Local leaders are demanding structural change to gun violence prevention efforts after a spray of bullets at a barbecue claimed the life of one-year-old Davell Gardner in Bedford-Stuyvesant and sent three men to the hospital on Sunday.
The July 12 shooting is the latest tragedy to shake the borough as gun violence continues to spike this summer. On the same night, 11 shootings occurred across the city, including one in Crown Heights less than a mile away from where one-year-old Gardner was killed, where a 12-year-old boy shot in the leg while sitting on his stoop.
Borough President Eric Adams is offering a reward of $1,000 out of his personal funds for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for Gardner’s death. The violence interruption group My Brother’s Keeper is offering an additional $2,000 reward.
At a press conference Monday, Adams called on the NYPD to prosecute gun violence perpetrators faster and work with local crisis management systems and clergy members to root out gun violence at the community level.
“Nine people shot and we haven’t made one arrest — why does it take this long?” he said.
Adams also called out the Police Department over rumors of a “slowdown” in policing in response to police brutality protests.
“I don’t want to hear a conversation about a slowdown in policing because your egos are hurt,” said Adams, a former NYPD officer. “I want the same level of attention and dedication because you are sworn to protect and serve this city, not to get in political issues.”
Public Advocate Juumane Williams agreed that law enforcement must play a direct role in stopping gun violence within in the communities they serve.
“If you think law enforcement and police have no part to play, you are wrong,” Williams said. “They have a part to play and many of us are going to do our part to make sure that part is done with equity and justice.”
But law enforcement should not be the only agency that receives resources to end gun violence, said Williams, who joined a chorus of elected officials, anti-violence activists, and clergy members on Monday afternoon just feet from where Davell Gardener was killed on Madison Avenue and Marcus Garvey Boulevard. Yellow markers of shell casings still stood behind police tape, and remnants of the barbecue that had been interrupted by gunfire were still intact.
“If you are out here saying that the only thing that these communities need are police, or that the biggest thing that they need are police, that is also wrong,” Williams said. “The same people that you keep seeing asking for more police, I ask you to ask them this, are they asking for more resources for their hospital, are they asking for more resources for their schools, are they asking for healthy food around them, are they asking for things for their young people to do?”
Councilman Robert Cornegy, who serves the district where the shooting took place, also called on the city to pour more resources into neighborhoods dealing with gun violence surges.
“Until we begin to pour the resources in like they did in the ’20s when they realized that poverty was a public health issue … we’re not going to move forward,” he said. “So while we have one shooter, the reality is this country loaded the bullet.”