NEW YORK—Thirteen-year-old Gama Droiville was waiting for a bus in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, when he was shot twice in the head—caught in the crossfire of a shooter aiming at another man.
His right eye was damaged by one of the bullets, and it is not known whether he will see out of it again.
The shooter has since been arrested and forgiven by the inspiring 13-year-old, whose first thought was of God when the incident occurred.
“I’d like to say thank you for all the support, thank you for all the prayers,” Gama said with a smile to hospital staff and media upon his release from Kings County Hospital Center on Tuesday.
Now, he wants to focus on healing and hopes that his eyesight will recover.
Gama, who came to New York at the age of 3 from Haiti to live with his aunt and uncle, relied on his faith throughout the ordeal.
Gama had been with his aunt and 8-year-old cousin at the bus stop last Monday when he was shot. At the time, he comforted his family members. Pressing tissues to his face after he realized he was bleeding, he assured them he was okay.
Miraculously, he was. Neither bullet pierced his skull, and there was no brain damage. After five hours of overnight surgery, doctors had removed the bullets. Doctor Douglas Lazzaro said Gamma is in the healing process, and it is too early to tell how he will fare.
“Gama is an inspiration for the staff here at Kings County,” Lazzaro said.
Gama sings in the choir of his local church. He was supposed to sing Easter Sunday. Instead, his fellow choir members visited and sang with him at the hospital.
Jimmy Marcel, the boy’s father, thanked the 70th precinct police officers, officials, media, and choir members who visited Gamma during his stay at the hospital. “The tragedy has ended, Gama is alive.”
“We are so happy to see that Gama is going home after this horrible tragedy,” said Council member Mathieu Eugene. “Gama is a wonderful young person.”
Police arrested the shooter, 21-year-old Kareem Potomont, in Queens on April 17. Potomont, who had 13 prior arrests, was found hiding in a basement.
Police said it appeared to be a gang-related shooting aimed at 24-year-old Eduardo Dolphy, who was shot in the leg.
“It seems like there is a disconnect,” Eugene said. “After a shooting, there’s another. After a shooting, there’s another one.”
Just a few weeks ago, 39-year-old Angel Rojas was caught in the crossfire on a bus and killed by a teen in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
A week before that, three men were shot at a baby shower after an argument broke out outside the church where the baby shower was held.
Eugene said gun violence is a serious issue that communities like his need to address. He said he believed if they could provide young people with the right opportunities they would be able to lower the gang-led gun violence prevalent on the city’s streets.
Gun Violence Rising
After months of declines, shootings in New York City have risen as much as 30 to 40 percent in the past few weeks, according to New York Police Department COMPSTAT data and Newsday.
A third of the city’s shootings occurred in East New York, Brooklyn. Shootings there increased from 14 to 24 in the same period last year.
In the 28 days ending April 13, shootings citywide increased to 70 from 66, and victims increased to 85 from 76, compared to the same period last year.
The increase in shootings is partially because of the warmer weather.
“Weather is always an issue; people are out there, especially on gang stuff,” NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis told Newsday.