The fatal shooting that occurred on Sunday in Clinton Hill’s famous diner the Country House not only took the life of Jason Lewis. For Lewis’ three children, the murder senselessly took away the solid man they knew as Dad as well.
Lewis, 34, and Shana McLean, a police officer with whom he had recently entered into a relationship with, were having an early morning breakfast in the diner when 29-year-old Tyrone Gainer, reportedly celebrating his birthday, spotted McLean and grabbed her arm.
What happened next is still under investigation and includes conjectures–which range from a love triangle gone wrong to a hit to remove Lewis and stymie his business, to a vigilantly possessive friend acting jealously while intoxicated–but it resulted in a gunshot that ended Lewis’ life and left his children Javante, 15, Chastity, 12, and Jabari, 6, without a father.
When exemplary fathers in Black communities have their lives cut down by seemingly senseless and wanton acts, that kind of death is particularly poignant for communities like those in Central Brooklyn facing a disproportionate need for exemplary Black fathers en masse.
According to NYPD, Lewis’ murder was the first in the area for the year, but if previous murder records are any indication, it won’t be the last. According to Compstat, that area which is patrolled by the 88th Precinct is surreptitiously suffering from a 100 percent increase in homicides; there were two murders in 2011 and four in 2012.
The death of Lewis not only hits hard upon the heads of his family but also upon those at large in the communities of Clinton Hill and Bedford-Stuyvesant as a nonsensical tragedy that evokes more questions than answers. For Jelani Mashariki, a childhood friend who grew up and lived next door to Lewis, the many questions that result from his death hit particularly and literally close to home.
“We were neighbors on Lefferts Place. I know all his children. His daughter and my daughter have similar birthdays. We’ve had joint birthdays together. Jason is extended family to me. He’s always been a supportive and helpful brother to me. If you knew Jason, then somewhere along the line he helped you. He was the kind of man who prided himself on being a good father.”
When asked about Lewis’ children and their welfare, Mashariki said, “Jason’s kids will be supported by the people, whether we have to start a fund or foundation. If they’re not, I’ll definitely be making sure that there is that kind of structure put in place to support the children.”
Mashiriki, as a director of a men’s homeless shelter in Bedford-Stuyvesant, could not officially speak to the AmNews about the juxtaposition of his role in the shelter to the ongoing tragedies involving the deaths of Black men in Central Brooklyn. He did voice his concerns over death that, as a verb, has plagued his community.
“People need to respect life,” he said. “There is not enough respect out here for life. I’ve been really thinking about this, and I think we need to have structures in place that value life and straighten out our moral compass.”