‘I feel that bullet in my heart’: Devastated family seek justice for Canarsie shooting victim

Police investigate the scene of a shooting in Canarsie that left 40-year-old Billy Jean Hippolyte dead.
Police investigate the scene of a shooting in Canarsie that left 40-year-old Billy Jean Hippolyte dead.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Mourners gathered on Thursday for a solemn vigil of a Canarsie father that was gunned down in broad daylight, with the victim’s family demanding justice and lamenting that their lives will “never be the same.”

Billy Jean Hippolyte, 40, was walking near the corner of E. 83rd Street and Flatlands Avenue at around 3 p.m. on Jan. 17, when a gunman opened fire and shot him three times his torso. 

When first responders arrived on the scene they found the bloodied victim lying unresponsive, and rushed him to nearby Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, where doctors pronounced him dead.

Police have not publicly identified a suspect, and the investigation remains ongoing. 

Hippolyte’s two siblings, Naomi and Ruth Hippolyte, spoke to grieving attendees at the Jan. 26 vigil about the agonizing pain they felt when they heard the devastating news. 

“My life will never be the same. I feel that bullet. I feel that bullet in my heart,” said Naomi.  “Three bullets in Billy’s body at 3 o’clock.”

Family and friends gathered at Guarino Funeral Home in Canarsie, where his loved ones lamented his senseless death — and spoke of him as an approachable and social person who enjoyed spending time with his friends, traveling, sports, and playing dominoes.

At just 19, Hippolyte was diagnosed with Leukemia, but survived after eight rounds of chemotherapy. His sisters said that overcoming cancer inspired and empowered Billy “to live life to the full, to go for higher, to enjoy life, to appreciate life”.

Canarsie's Billie Jean Hippolyte.
Billie Jean Hippolyte.Courtesy of the Hippolyte family

He went on to study auto mechanics and plumbing, working on automobiles plumbing installation for new construction and commercial properties, and was the father of a 6-year-old daughter.

While thanking those in attendance for the support their family has received from the community, the victim’s family said they are praying for justice, and to hopefully find some measure of closure. 

“We want Billy’s killer to be exposed and brought to justice,” Naomi said. “Billy didn’t deserve to go out like this at all. Nobody does. He was on his way to reunite with his daughter. Now this little girl is fatherless.”

Police say they have no further details as to the circumstances surrounding the Canarsie shooting, or any potential motives or suspects. 

‘We cannot wait for the NYPD to do it for us’

Attending last night’s vigil, local Councilmember Mercedes Narcisse called on those gathered to help the fight against gun violence by showing the young people of their community that “picking up a gun is the first step in the destruction of, not only themselves and their victims, but the entire community.”

“Now the entire community is mourning for a young man. And as you listen to the sisters, he had so much to give. So much love to give — but yet he’s gone,” the Canarsie legislator said. “So it is our responsibility as a community: when we see something, say something.”

Narcisse went on to lament the effect of gun violence on the hopes of children looking to grow into positive members of society. 

“The bullets from their guns tear everlasting holes in the moral fiber of our community and chip away at the foundation in which so many good young men and young women of our community strive to build a successful and prosperous life,” Narcisse said.

“Billy was on the right path. Billy went into better health. He had some challenging times but he wanted to turn it around. We all can do something to stop it.”

While hoping for the NYPD to find Hippolyte’s killer, the legislator implored neighbors to do more in their own lives to stop the scourge of violence in the Five Boroughs. 

“We cannot wait for the NYPD to do it for us,” she said. “You have to be partners in whatever the solution is.”

In the 69th Precinct, where the fatal shooting occurred, there has been just one other reported shooting this year as of Jan. 22, when the most recent Police Department data is available — down from 2 in the southern Brooklyn precinct over the same timeframe last year.

Citywide, reported shootings are down nearly 14% year-to-date.

For more coverage of Canarsie news, head to BrooklynPaper.com.