Locals rally in response to Brownsville mass shooting

Locals rally in response to Brownsville mass shooting
Photo by Caroline Ourso

Locals rallied in Brownsville on Monday to demand an end to gun violence following a mass shooting that left one dead and 11 wounded last week.

“It’s about taking back our community,” said Brownsville native Alice McKay. “It’s a call to action to the community, to let people know that they don’t have to be a victim of gun violence.”

Multiple gunmen opened fire at the annual Old Timers Day block party at Hegeman and Christopher avenues on July 27, striking a dozen partygoers — including 38-year-old Jason Pagan, who later died at Brookdale Hospital, cops said.

Police have yet to make an arrest in relation to the killing, but authorities are searching for at least two shooters, who detectives suspect may be members of local street gangs, according to Police Commissioner James O’Neill.

As the investigation continues, hundreds of Brownsville residents took to the streets, marching down Mother Gaston Boulevard to demand action.

“I lost my son to gun violence here in the same community that I grew up in. It breaks my heart to have lost a child — period,” said McKay, whose son was shot and killed in 2014. “But to know that this happened in the same community that I grew up in and love is heartbreaking.”

McKay called on Brownsville residents to band together to enrich their communities and provide the youth with an alternative to a life on the streets.

“We need to get more resources for our communities. We used to have community centers — not just liquor stores and laundromats,” she said. “Part of it is because we’ve lost resources, we don’t vote like we need to, and we don’t advocate for ourselves like we need to.”

Another demonstrator spoke bluntly about the need to invest in the local economy and create jobs.

“Most of the time when someone discharges a gun, it’s about a dollar bill,” said Minister Mickens. “It’s always about some kind of currency.”

Mickens took advantage of the rally to promote his advocacy group Community Checkpoints — which collects donations to hire security guards to protect high-crime neighborhoods — saying communities like Brownsville need more boots on the ground in the war against gun violence.

“Every street is vulnerable to gun violence. Every community is vulnerable to gun violence. Every playground is the same way, because you don’t have security there,” he said. “We need a real plan to stop this.”

Police are offering a combined reward of $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the gunmen involved in Saturday’s murder.

Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at www.NYPDcrimestoppers.com, on Twitter @NYPDTips, or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

All calls are strictly confidential.

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.