“To wake up this morning and learn that a 1-year-old child was killed on the streets of our city by gunfire is just so painful. It’s not acceptable. It is not something we can ever look away from. It’s something we have to address and stop and it’s just horrifying,” the mayor said at a press conference on Monday.
Davell Gardner Jr., the toddler, was hit in the stomach by a gunshot fired near a playground in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, which sits in the borough of Brooklyn, just before midnight on Sunday.
Davell was rushed to a hospital but was soon pronounced dead.
“A one year old child is dead. The baby was with his family enjoying a Sunday night in the Summer when someone started shooting,” Jeffrey Maddrey, the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) chief of community affairs, said in a statement.
“Three people were injured and the baby was killed. This. Must.STOP! We as a community, we as a police department denounce this disgusting violence.”
Police officials said a 36-year-old man who was hit in the leg was taken to the hospital and was in stable condition while a 35-year-old man hit in the groin was in unknown condition at a hospital. A 27-year-old male who was hit in the ankle and walked into a hospital was in unknown condition.
Two men dressed in all black started shooting at a group having a cookout before fleeing in an SUV, according to the NYPD. Police said an argument did not precipitate the shooting.
“This is not anything we can allow in our city, and it’s heartbreaking, it’s heartbreaking for so many reasons, and it begins with the fact that there are just so many guns out there—that is a New York tragedy and a national tragedy,” de Blasio, a Democrat, told reporters.
“But it’s also another indication of the work we have to do, we have to heal, we have to bring our police and our communities together. We have so much to do. And it’s just something to think about, you can never look away from something to this and be numb to it. Because it goes against everything that we believe as New Yorkers. We can’t let this happen in our city. So I’m just heartbroken today.”
City officials have struggled to stem the spike in shootings. The city is under prolonged restrictions imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Protests continue near City Hall as people push for a further defunding of the NYPD. Lawmakers slashed some $1 billion from the department this month.
Murders are up 50 percent from 2019, with 18 in the week of June 29 to July 5, according to police data. The number of shooting victims jumped from 33 during the same time period last year to 101 this year and the number of shootings increased from 26 to 74.
Current and former police officials attribute the spike to a number of factors, including bail reform, a paralyzed justice system, and the elimination of anti-crime units.
After a bloody July 4th weekend that saw 56 people shot, the mayor instructed the NYPD to surge the number of officers at certain places around the city.
The mayor announced on Friday a plan to pair officers with members of community organizations in a bid to stem shootings before they happen.
Praising the Cure Violence movement and faith leaders, de Blasio said the Parks Department would also be involved in putting on activities that gave young people “positive alternatives.”
“We’re going to have a youth town hall next Friday in Harlem to make sure the voices of young people and their needs are heard. And then a larger effort—a take-back-the-block effort over the coming weeks—grassroots, anti-violence effort based on very successful models from recent years of community members, making very clear that their blocks, their community belongs to them and it needs to be a safe place,” he said, vowing to “break the cycle of violence.”