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Young Guns: Teen shooting incites calls to end gun pipeline

Nayaba Arinde | 3/27/2014, 6 a.m.
M15 bus Photo by Lem Peterkin

“Every aspect of this story is heartbreaking,” said Council Member Robert Cornegy. “I’m grappling with the disturbing reality that a teenaged boy was willing to shoot wildly in a public place and that our society’s inconsistent gun control policies allowed him to get a weapon and take a life. I’m focused on reducing the availability of guns in our community and on inoculating other youth against the disease of gun violence. ...The loss of Mr. Rojas, an innocent man and hardworking provider, is senseless and devastating. My heart goes out to his grieving widow and children.”

Rojas, a recent emigrant from the Dominican Republic, worked two jobs and was heading home from a 12-hour shift to see his family before he started his second job that evening. He leaves behind Maria Lopez, a part-time home attendant and mother of their 12-year-old son, Saury, and 8-year-old daughter, April. Speaking to journalists, Saury translated for his mom, stating that now they cannot afford to rent their second-floor Brownsville apartment.

“She can’t stay here; she says she can’t afford the rent,” he said as he struggled to come to terms with why his father was shot and killed by a boy just two years his senior. “He was a good man. He used to go to work for us so we could live and could eat and survive.”

Saying that her son is “a good kid” and still just “a child,” Anderson’s mother, who asked to remain anonymous, noted, “A tragedy has happened. Both families are suffering a loss.”

Rowe-Adams, a mother who has lost two sons to gun violence, told the AmNews, “Unless you have lost a loved one to gun violence, you don’t know how important it is to get those who are involved in the trafficking and selling of illegal guns in our city off the street and behind bars.”

In 1982, Rowe-Adams’ then 17-year-old son Tyrone was shot in the head by a 13-year-old in Baltimore. Sixteen years later, her son Anthony Bouldin, 28, was killed in Harlem. “Who is putting these guns in our babies’ hands?” Rowe-Adams asked.

“We know where the guns are coming from—from the east, the west and the south, the Jersey border, the I-95. If we know this, then why aren’t they being stopped?” said Rowe-Adams, who asked the same question of National Rifle Association (NRA) CEO Wayne LaPierre at the 2012 NRA national meeting.

Rowe-Adams’ Harlem Mothers SAVE is calling for a citywide investigation on how a 14-year-old can get hold of a .357 Magnum handgun. “The kids are telling me, ‘Oh, I can get a gun anytime,’” said Rowe-Adams. “Clearly someone is putting guns in our kids’ hands. It is not the first time. We should be focusing on the fact that we need more parents, families and more community involvement paying attention to who is putting the guns in our kids’ hands.”