The three men involved in the shooting that killed Zurana Horton, a mother of 12, were coughed up by the community because they said that they could not stay in the community after what they did, said Andre Mitchell, head of Man Up Inc. and Ceasefire East New York.
The community activist said people in the neighborhood are tired of the incessant gunfire and bloodletting. “We are not having it. We went on the streets and we did our work. These three individuals understood that they had a choice to make and they decided to turn themselves in.”
The sun was shining bright as school let out around 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 21.
Someone started firing from the roof of a Brownsville building. Her mother’s instinct kicked in as Horton tried to shield one of her children and many others as the bullets started flying, an act of selfless bravery that cost her her life on Pitkin Avenue. Shoppers, passersby and schoolchildren ran for cover screaming.
When the pandemonium subsided, it was discovered that two other people had been hit. Recovering from gunshot wounds was a 31-year-old woman and 11-year-old Cheanne McKnight, a sixth grader at P.S. 298, who was treated at Brookdale for a graze to her cheek.
As arrangements are being made to lay Horton to rest, last Sunday, outraged activists held a community prayer vigil and prayer walk for peace at Pitkin Avenue and Watkins Street. They demanded the immediate apprehension of those involved in the shooting. It happened swiftly.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Tuesday that Andrew Lopez, 18, “made a full confession” to shooting Horton. After a gang-related dispute on the street involving his brother that some witnesses said went on for some time, Lopez took to the roof and opened fire, spraying the area with bullets.
Kelly said, “He has made statements that he fired his weapon from the rooftop, which resulted in the death of the woman who was protecting those three young children in front of the supermarket.”
Polce also arrested Lopez’s brother, Kristian Lopez, 17, and their half-brother, Jonathan Carrasquillo, 22.
Carrasquillo was charged with murder, two counts of felony assault, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment. Kristian Lopez was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, according to police.
The fallout from the shooting has been tremendous in the Brownsville and East New York section of Brooklyn. Family and neighbors are confounded by the recklessness that is taking the lives of young and old alike. From babies to grandparents, stray bullets are ripping flesh and staining the sidewalks with blood.
State Sen. John Sampson is among those who has condemned the “senseless killing” of the pregnant 33-year-old mother of 12.
“My sympathy goes out to the family and friends of Zurana Horton and her 12 children. I also wish those injured in the gunfire a speedy recovery,” Sampson said. “My prayers go out to all of the families impacted by this tragedy. This was a brutal, senseless murder orchestrated by reckless individuals.
“Our streets have become killing fields for gun-crazy people who are not in the least bit concerned for the safety of innocent bystanders likely to be caught in their murderous crossfire. We must come together as a community to battle this cancer that is claiming far too many innocent lives,” he continued.
NYPD statistics state that, to date, there have been 23 murders in the 73rd Precinct and 21 in the 75th Precinct. This latest shooting occurred in the busy shopping area of Pitkin Avenue and Watkins Street in the 73rd Precinct of North Brooklyn.
Sampson said, “These are very troubling statistics. There are too many guns in our community. Until we end our youth’s love affair with guns, the end result will always be tragedies like what happened. This could have been a far greater tragedy, because the gunman or gunmen chose to unleash their lethal activities near P.S. 298 at just around the time when children leave the school and parents are picking up their kids.”
Sampson, who represents Brooklyn’s 19th Senatorial District, plans to convene “a special emergency meeting of key community leaders, civic associations, the clergy, youth organizations and other stakeholders in my district to once and for all address the issue of crime and violence. I will also be speaking to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office as well as Commissioner Ray Kelly of the NYPD to work at better coordinating our efforts,” he said.
“At the same time, I will be looking at ways and means to better educate our youths to help deter crime and gun violence.”
Local resident Anthony Hebert, who works closely with the NYPD, called for “an end to this senseless feud amongst youth who are alleged to be gang members in the Howard Houses, Glenmore Plaza, Seth Low, Langston Hughes Houses, Van Dyke Houses and Brownsville Houses, ending at Tilden Houses, where the Horton family lives.”
Kenneth Thompson, Horton’s stepfather, said, “It is a great relief that someone has been caught for the crime that has been committed.” However, he told CBS 2`s Derricke Dennis, “There can never be closure. I have 12 grandchildren right now who will never have the comfort of their mother tucking them in to sleep every night.”
Jackie Hilly, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said, “Zurana Horton deserved the right to raise her family in a community safe and free from gun violence, but guns are now everywhere and they took that freedom and her life.
“She was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was picking up her children from school, which is exactly where she should have been,” Hilly said. “The awful truth is that mothers, fathers and children die every day from gun violence. We need to stop this now so people have the freedom to be safe in their own communities. We deserve the right to be safe and free.”
“Ms. Horton died a true hero, protecting the children,” Mitchell concluded. “We are going to the school every morning from 8 to 10 a.m. to walk the children in and to offer our support and our services. We are also reaching out to little Cheanne, who was grazed by a bullet to her face. We are inviting her to our after-school program so we can extend the love and comfort of our community.”
Mitchell, who has been working with the state on the privately funded Operation SNUG program, noted that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s refusal to continue funding the anti-gun violence program seriously jeopardizes the “nightly walkthroughs of the neighborhood by our violence interrupters and conflict interceptors.
“But we are committed to keeping our community safe, so we will still do what we have always done, even if the city and state do not see the value in us saving lives in the hood.”
In the wake of the Brownsville shootings, it does not look good that eight former and current New York City cops were charged with conspiring to distribute firearms, drugs and stolen goods on Tuesday, Oct. 25.
In an investigation that began in 2009, the FBI just rounded up the alleged rogue civil servants who serviced Brooklyn’s 68th and 71st precincts and the Brooklyn South Task Force, as well as a New Jersey corrections officer and former sanitation worker.
The response from the Brooklyn community was brisk and terse.
“How can you have officers we pay to protect and serve, not only gun running but selling the guns back to the community so we can kill ourselves?” asked East New York City Councilman Charles Barron. “Commissioner Ray Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg should be held accountable for the environment that they have both allowed to fester. Meanwhile, the mayor continues to cut social services and resources while these corrupt office traffic guns and drugs in our communities.”