‘This has destroyed our community’ Pols hold vigil for Crown Heights mass shooting

‘This has destroyed our community’ Pols hold vigil for Crown Heights mass shooting
Photo by Ben Verde

Brooklynites gathered Monday night to mourn the victims of a mass shooting that claimed four lives in Crown Heights on Oct. 12.

Borough President Eric Adams — who organized the candlelight vigil outside the illegal Utica Avenue gambling den where the massacre occurred — lamented the national epidemic of gun-violence plaguing communities of color, which he says has numbed the country to acts of senseless killing.

“We are not going to allow a mass shooting in our community and just flip over the pages and act like it did not happen,” Adams said. “This has destroyed our community, and we are outraged that the country continues to be dismissive of mass shootings in communities of color.”

Several dozen mournful Brooklynites joined Adams and Crown Heights Councilman Robert Cornegy at the vigil, where they held candles, uttered prayers, and set out four pairs of empty shoes — one for each victim of Saturday’s shootout.

The gun battle — which killed four people and injured three others at an underground gambling ring between Pacific and Dean streets — was the second mass shooting in the borough within three months.

In July, two gunmen opened fire at a block party in Brownsville — killing one person and injuring 11 others.

Adams blasted the lack of resources offered to predominantly African-American communities like Crown Heights and Brownsville in the wake of tragedies, which he says are treated with greater consideration in suburban and rural areas.

Members of Gays Against Guns, a nonviolence advocacy group, stage a vigil in front of the site of the shooting, featuring photos of those lost to gun violence over the past week in Brooklyn and elsewhere.
Photo by Ben Verde

“How many schools in this area received counseling the next day?” Adams asked. “How many family members and residents of this community received the necessary counseling?”

The area’s local councilman echoed Adams’ sentiment and called for more long-lasting reforms to combat violent crime.

“We have to use the correct language,” said Robert Cornegy. “Yes, Mass Shootings, but yes violence is now and has always been a public health issue and when we identify it as such we can demand the resources — more jobs, affordable housing, all of the things that are contributors to violence.”

Gun violence across New York City has risen this year compared to last — as the number of shooting victims has increased from 736 from 721 as of Oct. 6, when the most recent data is available.

In Brooklyn, however, the number of gun violence victims has decreased over the same time frame, from 292 to 302 — largely driven by a decrease in violence in the southern half of the borough.

Within Brooklyn North — a policing precinct that encompasses Crown Heights, Brownsville, and other surrounding neighborhoods — gun violence victims have increased 204 to 192 over that time frame, which does not include the four victims of the Oct. 12 shooting.

Mourners set-up shoes with candles to represent the victims outside the site of the shooting.
Photo by Ben Verde

Reach reporter Ben Verde at (718) 260–2525 or by e-mail at bverde@cnglocal.com.